Take a 360° Virtual Tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architectural Masterpieces, Taliesin & Taliesin West

In addi­tion to his build­ings, Frank Lloyd Wright left behind more than 23,000 draw­ings, 40 large-scale mod­els, 44,000 pho­tographs, 600 man­u­scripts and 300,000 pieces of cor­re­spon­dence. Any archives of that size, in this case a size com­men­su­rate with Wright’s pres­ence in archi­tec­tur­al his­to­ry, demand a daunt­ing (and expen­sive) amount of main­te­nance work. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foun­da­tion did the best it could with them after the archi­tec­t’s death in 1959, hous­ing most of their mate­ri­als at Wright’s two far-flung stu­dio-home-school com­plex­es: Tal­iesin in Spring Green, Wis­con­sin and Tal­iesin West in Scotts­dale, Ari­zona.

In 2012, the Foun­da­tion part­nered with the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art and the Avery Archi­tec­tur­al and Fine Arts Library to move the archives to New York and dig­i­tize them. Tal­iesin and Tal­iesin West, how­ev­er, still stand in the same places that they always have.

With a quar­ter of the 400 struc­tures Wright designed in his life­time now demol­ished or oth­er­wise lost, one has to won­der: could the build­ings them­selves be dig­i­tal­ly archived as well? Leica Geosys­tems has tak­en a step in that direc­tion by using “the world’s small­est and light­est imag­ing laser scan­ner, the BLK360″ to pro­duce “a dimen­sion­al­ly accu­rate laser cap­tured rep­re­sen­ta­tion” of Tal­iesin West.

The result­ing “point cloud” ver­sion of Tal­iesin West appears in the video above, which shows how the data cap­tured by the sys­tem rep­re­sents the exte­ri­or and the inte­ri­or of the build­ing. Like most impor­tant works of archi­tec­ture, its aes­thet­ics some­how both rep­re­sent the pro­jec­t’s time (in this case, con­struc­tion and addi­tions span­ning from 1911–1959) and tran­scend it. The scan also includes the sur­round­ing nat­ur­al land­scape, from which one can nev­er sep­a­rate Wright’s mas­ter­works, as well as the spe­cial­ly designed fur­ni­ture inside. This tech­nol­o­gy also makes pos­si­ble a vir­tu­al tour, which you can take here. You might fol­low it up with the vir­tu­al tour of the orig­i­nal Tal­iesin pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, there­by mak­ing an archi­tec­tur­al pil­grim­age of 1600 miles in an instant.

Wright, accord­ing to the New York Review of Books’ archi­tec­tur­al crit­ic Mar­tin Filler, believed in “the suprema­cy of the Gesamtkunst­werk, the com­plete work of art that was the dream of nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry vision­ar­ies who fore­saw the dis­in­te­gra­tion of cul­ture in the wake of the Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion.” It makes sense that the archi­tect, equal­ly a man of the nine­teenth and the twen­ti­eth cen­turies, would ded­i­cate him­self to the notion that “only by chang­ing the world — or, fail­ing that, cre­at­ing an alter­na­tive to it — could art be saved.” With his build­ings, Wright did indeed cre­ate an alter­na­tive to the world as it was. How they’ll hold up in the cen­turies to come nobody can say, but with more and more advanced meth­ods of inte­gra­tion between the phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal worlds, per­haps his art can be saved.

Take a vir­tu­al tour of Tal­iesin West here, and the orig­i­nal Tal­iesin here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a 360° Vir­tu­al Tour of Tal­iesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Per­son­al Home & Stu­dio

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs an Urban Utopia: See His Hand-Drawn Sketch­es of Broad­acre City (1932)

The Mod­ernist Gas Sta­tions of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe

Frank Lloyd Wright Reflects on Cre­ativ­i­ty, Nature and Reli­gion in Rare 1957 Audio

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling­wa­ter Ani­mat­ed

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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