undated photo released by the Taliesin Preservation Inc.,
shows the living room of Taliesin in Spring Green, Wis. The
Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture's quest for a way
to keep its accreditation status has some school board
members at odds with the foundation operating it. Last week,
the Scottsdale-based Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation announced
it would not spin off the school into an independent
corporation as a way to abide by new standards to gain
accreditation. That decision has shaken the school's Board
of Governors, who say that could mean the program would
eventually become a shell of itself.
PHOENIX - The
future of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture has
divided the institution named for the iconic designer. The quest
to keep its accreditation status has some school board members
concerned the degree program will end, while its foundation denied
the school is in danger of closing.
Scottsdale-based Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which operates the
school, announced last week that it would not independently
incorporate the school as a way to stay accredited. The
Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission, which accredits
degree-granting colleges and universities in 19 states, changed
its bylaws two years ago to prohibit accreditation for schools
that operate as divisions of a larger organization.
accreditation, the school would be unable to offer a Master of
Architecture degree, which offers students the chance to learn
from those who once worked with the legendary architect.
decision has shaken the school's Board of Governors, who say the
program may have to shut down when its accreditation expires in
could continue but it would not train architects that could become
licensed. I'm not sure what value it would bring to them or to the
profession," said Maura Grogan, board chairwoman.
President and CEO Sean Malone disagreed, saying the possibility of
the school closing in the future was not "grounded in fact or
He said he
understood the board's desire to try separating the school from
the foundation to meet the new accreditation criteria, but it
wouldn't have been feasible.
determined that it just wasn't appropriate to do that and
simultaneously be committing long-term funding at well over $1
million a year," Malone said of the foundation's financial
Wright, who died
in 1959, designed 1,141 architectural works. More than one-third
of his buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic
Places or are in a National Historic District. His Taliesin estate
in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and one in Scottsdale, dubbed Taliesin
West, became laboratories of sorts for student apprentices.
students are enrolled at the Wright School, which was initiated in
1932. They divide their time between Scottsdale and Wisconsin.
Besides education programs, the foundation also oversees
preservation, restoration and tourism related to Wright-designed
Wright officials have considered other options to keep its
accreditation, such as jointly partnering with another
understanding the foundation has looked into this in the past and
has not found suitable partners," Grogan said. "I'm
unclear what has changed at this point."
Malone said the
school has already received "significant interest" from
a number of institutions nationwide.
suggestions that partnering with somebody else is in essence the
definition of closing the school — which is completely
inaccurate," Malone said. "There are no plans,
intentions or willingness whatsoever to close the Frank Lloyd
Wright School of Architecture."
Grogan said she
is hopeful that the board and the foundation can come to a
resolution. Now, the sides agree that the school provides a unique
"To sit in a
dining room and overhear conversations from four or five
generations of people all debating, arguing, sharing and laughing
— it's a very, very special place," Grogan said.