The school’s location is changing as our commitment to the legacy of architectural excellence and experimentation endures.
The School of Architecture (TSOA) is a 91-year-old institution, originally founded by Frank Lloyd Wright as the Taliesin Fellowship. Over the decades, the school has undergone numerous transformations in response to the changing landscape of architectural education while maintaining its core values around experiential learning as a critical way of engaging design within today’s urgent environmental and societal contexts. After three years in residence at Arcosanti, TSOA is pleased to announce that the school will be moving the bulk of its activities to Cattle Track Arts Compound in Scottsdale, AZ, a dynamic arts community and historic campus with ties to TSOA’s previous Arizona locations. Students will work within an expansive studio environment, with access to shared woodshop, gallery, and event spaces at Cattle Track, sharing a culture of experimental building with its vibrant community of artists in residence. The arts compound was founded by George Ellis, an engineer and builder who was renowned for his innovative and resourceful use of local materials, and constructed Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rose Pauson house in Phoenix.
“We are excited for this new phase and opportunity to grow,” says Dean Stephanie Lin. “We are incredibly grateful for all of our past experiences as an institution, and our number one priority is to continue to expand the breadth of opportunities for our students to be engaged with the new colleagues, new partnerships, and new ideas that an urban environment can offer us. Cattle Track has the best of both worlds: a distinctive place to spread out and experiment with hands-on building while also being highly convenient to resources and personnel needed to support a program of our kind.”
Jason Donofrio, Chair of TSOA’s Board of Governors, adds, “The school embodies resilience. It has taken many forms and endured many changes over the years, but our commitment to community and the legacy of experimental architecture have always remained at the core of who we are. I am excited to see our values embodied in our new location as we work to execute a program that seeks to solve the sustainability design challenges of today.”
TSOA is not a newcomer to the Cattle Track campus. Last year, graduating student Christopher Dela Pole pre-fabricated the aluminum framing members of his design-build Shelter Thesis project using the campus’s metalworking facilities. TSOA faculty and students have also been developing a compressed earth block (CEB) tiny-home prototype on the site in partnership with Brick by Brick and the City of Scottsdale, exploring transitional housing solutions for individuals experiencing homelessness. Finally, TSOA alum and school Board Member John Sather, whose office Swaback Partners is across the street, has maintained a longstanding relationship with Cattle Track and the Ellis Family. His partner, Taliesin Fellow Vern Swaback, is a former board member of Cattle Track Arts and Preservation. The school looks forward to continuing historic connections and growing existing and future collaborations within these new circumstances, enhancing the unique characteristics of its NAAB-accredited Master of Architecture program. Highlights of TSOA’s distinctive programming and projects include the recent Organic Exhibition, the semesterly Lecture Series, a student-led exhibition on John Lautner’s Pearlman Cabin and Walstrom Residence, Spring-semester student Shelter Thesis projects, Seabreeze Bop City for which TSOA was awarded a 2023 Graham Foundation grant, an intensive annual Summer Immersion program in Chicago, and Fall/Spring Immersion experiences in Arizona.
President Chris Lasch observes, “Ever since the Fellowship began migrating between Arizona and Wisconsin on a yearly basis starting in the 1930s, we have been a mobile community. This return to the Phoenix Metro Area puts us in closer contact with our faculty, the dynamic professional community of the Valley and our traditional base of support. We are excited for this renewed partnership with Cattle Track, and we also look forward to future ones as we continue to evolve, move, and craft the next iteration of this legendary institution.”