So on our first day in Wisconsin, we took a field trip out to Taliesin, the estate where Frank Lloyd Wright lived for the last 40-odd years of his life. I’ve been meaning to for the five years I’ve gone to Wiscon. We went with Janine and Doselle Young, another sf power couple, braving the cows and silos to reach this modern masterpiece of design.
photo by Doselle Young
Historically speaking, there is no “true Taliesin” to preserve. The main house was constantly rebuilt by Wright and his acolytes, becoming sort of a sort of living laboratory of architecture. But you can feel his ego everywhere, the low ceilings pushing you to sit down when he wants you to, the views perfectly callibrated when you’re in the right chair, facing the right way. The house lets you know who’s still in charge: the dead architect.
Speaking of death . . . like all great architecture, Taliesin has great stories. The house was leveled twice during Wright’s lifetime, once by lightning and once by arson, his third wife burnt alive–along with kids and houseguests–by an enraged gardener. Whoa.
And it just gets weirder. In 1985, more than 25 years after his death, Wright’s body was snatched from the nearby cemetary. You see, his fourth and final wife wanted him exhumed and cremated upon her death, their ashes scattered together. But his family was a bit more old-school than that, and were like, “Uh, no.” But shortly after the wife’s death her supporters went on a midnight raid and dug Wright up. And the ashes got scattered together.
Which brings me to zombies. I wish I could say it was all the tour guide’s talk of murder and grave-robbing, but actually, I’m kind of immature about world heritage sights. Whenever I visit them, I think about where I want to live if there’s a world-depopulating plague. In a Wright house? The Battersea Power Station? Or maybe the Taj Mahal . . . because I’m not really into canned food or solitude, so the only really cool thing about global depopulation is all the freed-up architectural masterpieces.
But then my mind turns to other Last Man Alive issues, like, say, zombie apocalypse. So Doselle and I were standing there in Wright’s incredible house, cogitating on defensive issues. Of course, it does make the architecture come alive, worrying about hordes of zombies attacking.
So here’s our quick analysis, entitled, “Taliesin in Zombie Apocalypse: Fortress or Deathtrap?”
1. Views in all directions to spot approaching zombie hordes, especially from the Romeo and Juliet Windmill Tower located on the estate.
2. Solid sandstone construction, not likely to be torn to pieces by undead hands.
3. Frank Lloyd Wright chairs never let you get “too comfortable.”
4. No major population centers nearby, just farmland. See map.
5. Organic melding of architecture and landscape allows for interlocking fields of fire.
6. Shop in vistors’ center can be looted for tasteful gifts.
1. Lots of windows to be boarded up.
2. Rough exterior walls can be easily climbed by zombie horde.
3. No last-stand “suicide” basement.
4. Surrounding open spaces allow 28 Days-style “fast” zombies to get a big head of steam up.
5. Bring your own guns a must.
So, yes, a masterpiece, and highly recommended for a day trip if you like cool design. But in case of zombie apocalypse, I would stick to the mall until those 28 days (or whatever) are over.