Scottsdale, United States

General Information

Regional secretariat


Administrative status

Scottsdale is a city in Arizona, United States

The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright

Registration Year


Historical function

An important example of "organic architecture", whose buildings offer innovative solutions to the needs of housing, places of worship, work and leisure

Location and site

The property consists of eight buildings in the United States designed by the architect during the first half of the 20th century. These include well known designs such as Fallingwater (Mill Run, Pennsylvania) and the Guggenheim Museum (New York). All the buildings reflect the ‘organic architecture’ developed by Wright, which includes an open plan, a blurring of the boundaries between exterior and interior and the unprecedented use of materials such as steel and concrete. Each of these buildings offers innovative solutions to the needs for housing, worship, work or leisure. Wright’s work from this period had a strong impact on the development of modern architecture in Europe.

The city of Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, is home to the Taliesin West building, nestled in the desert foothills of the McDowell Mountains.

Urban Morphology

The buildings employ geometric abstraction and spatial manipulation as a response to functional and emotional needs and are based literally or figuratively on nature’s forms and principles. In adapting inspirations from global cultures, they break free of traditional forms and facilitate modern life. Wright’s solutions would go on to influence architecture and design throughout the world, and continue to do so to this day.

The components of the series include houses both grand and modest (including the consummate example of a “Prairie” house and the prototype “Usonian” house); a place of worship; a museum; and complexes of the architect’s own homes with studio and education facilities. These buildings are located variously in city, suburban, forest, and desert environments. The substantial range of function, scale, and setting in the series underscores both the consistency and the wide applicability of those principles. Each has been specifically recognized for its individual influence, which also contributes uniquely to the elaboration of this original architectural language.

Always a proponent of local materials, Wright would build Taliesin West largely in “desert masonry”: local rock set into wooden forms and bonded with a mixture of cement and desert sand. In doing so, Wright hoped to preserve as much of the desert environment as possible by integrating his structures into the landscape. Canvas roofs bathe the interior spaces in light, while redwood beams add Wright’s trademark touches of red. Over the years, the complex was continually modified and expanded, eventually including a drawing studio, dining rooms, three theaters, a workshop, Wright’s office and private accommodations, as well as residences for apprentices and staff. Each building is linked by a series of walkways, terraces, pools and gardens. Wright designed all the furniture and interior decorations, the majority of which were made on site by the apprentices.

Registration criteria

Criterion (ii): Frank Lloyd Wright’s twentieth-century architectural works testify to a considerable exchange of ideas, through discourse, that changed architecture on a global scale during the first half of the twentieth century. The eight components of the serial property illustrate various aspects of Wright’s new approach to architecture, an approach consciously developed for an American context. The resulting buildings, however, were suited to modern life in many countries, and by fusing spirit and form, they elicited affective responses that testified to a universal appeal. This approach, which opposed the dominant styles in the USA, took advantage of new materials and technologies, but was also inspired by the principles of the natural world, and nurtured by other cultures and times. These innovative ideas and the resulting unified architectural works were noticed in European architectural and critical circles at the turn of the century, and influenced several trends and architects of the European Modern Movement in the field of architecture. Wright’s influence can also be seen in the work of architects in Latin America, Australia and Japan.

Historical reference

The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright focusses upon the influence that the work of this architect had, not only in his country, the United States of America, but more importantly, on architecture of the 20th century and upon the recognized masters of the Modern Movement in architecture in Europe. The qualities of what is known as ‘Organic Architecture’ developed by Wright, including the open plan, the blurring between exterior and interior, the new uses of materials and technologies and the explicit responses to the suburban and natural settings of the various buildings, have been acknowledged as pivotal in the development of modern architectural design in the 20th century.

Source :



21 August 2023

Scottsdale joins the OWHC as an active member!

Scottsdale, United States


Mr. David Ortega

City of Scottsdale

3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ, USA

[email protected]

Ms. Karen Churchard

Tourism & Events

7447 E. Indian School Rd #301
Scottsdale, AZ, USA

[email protected]