Frank Lloyd Wright Solar: Not On The Roof

American architect, artist and icon Frank Lloyd Wright was a fan of nature. From his earth-hugging “Prairie” houses to the cascading cantilevers of the Fallingwater in Pennsylvania (widely considered the most famous house ever designed for non-royalty), from the lily-pad columns of the SC Johnson Wax Administration Building in Wisconsin, to the spiraling, “snail-like” Guggenheim Museum in New York City, many of the architect’s most famous designs highlighted his regard for the natural world.

According to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, in fact, he advised his apprentices to “study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” He also espoused the use of natural, locally sourced building materials, envisioning buildings that were part and parcel of their surrounding environments.

Taliesen West

image via Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Which is why it seems fitting that perhaps the most enduring testament to Wright’s legacy, Taliesen West, in Scottsdale, Ariz., will be soon have all of its electricity needs accounted for with solar energy generated on site. This National Landmark Historic Site, located in the Sonoran desert in northeast Scottsdale, started as Wright’s personal winter home, studio and architectural campus, and is now home to both the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, receiving over 100,000 visitors each year.

The Energizing Taliesin West initiative is the product of a partnership between the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and First Solar, in conjunction with energy efficiency consultant Big Green Zero, to install a 250-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array at Taliesin West, bringing the entire campus up to net zero status. However, fans of the architect’s work need not worry about a whole lot of solar panels marring the rooftops of the campus’ historic buildings, as the array will be installed at a distance from the buildings, in keeping with its status as a national landmark.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

1 Comment

  • Reply April 14, 2012


    Wright was a genius and way ahead of the times. His use of the natural environment is a wonder and was based on the use Green sources and renewable materials. Use of natural light, shade from the sun with large overhangs, stone and concrete. His accomplishments were made with great personal sacrifice, motivated by the desire for excellance!

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