Arizona Biltmore
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Darmok and Jalad
N 33° 31.380 W 112° 01.390
12S E 404985 N 3709737
Quick Description: Wright or not... that is the question regarding the design of this "Jewel of the Desert"
Location: Arizona, United States
Date Posted: 7/8/2006 8:36:04 PM
Waymark Code: WMGTD
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Rayman
Views: 166

Long Description:
The Arizona Biltmore was a happy accident... the result of a misunderstanding by Albert Chase McArthur, a former Wright apprendice, who mistakenly believed that Wright held a patent for the textile-block system that he used to construct four California houses in the mid-1920s.

McArthur offered Wright a $10,000 license fee for the use of the block system and $1,000 month consulting salary.

How much Frank Lloyd Wright contributed to the Arizona Biltmore design has been debated for decades. McArthur was the architect of record, but rumors swirled throughout construction that Wright had been the real designer. Wright even pubished a public disavowal in the Architectural Record, "Albert McArthur is the architect of that building. All attempts to take the credit for that performance from him are gratuitous and beside the mark." However, behind the scenes Wright was furious that the use of the textile block system was largely cosmetic with a conventional steel and concrete framework providing the structural support and the addition of a fourth floor which in Wright's view ruined the proportions. Wright lasted only four months on the job, but left his imprint on the wonderful lobby, Aztec ballroom and the elegant guest cottages.

Perhaps the most obvious and dramatic design link to Wright is the use of indigenous materials that led to the creation of the "Biltmore Block." The pre-cast concrete blocks were molded on-site and used in the total construction of the resort. Designed by Emry Kopta, a prominent southwestern sculptor, the "Biltmore Block" features a geometric pattern inspired by a palm tree.

In 1930, after the stock market crash and when the estimated $1 million construction cost doubled, Chicago chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., one of the original investors in the project, became the sole owner. Over the next 44 years, the Wrigley family owned and operated the Arizona Biltmore and it became world renowned as the preferred luxury oasis for celebrities, heads of state, captains of industry and other famous travelers. Interestingly, the famed song composer Irving Berlin penned many tunes, including "White Christmas" while sitting poolside at the Arizona Biltmore.

In May of 1973, the Wrigley family sold the Biltmore to Talley Industries, which closed the resort for renovations that summer. During the installation of a new sprinkler system, a welding torch ignited the gold leaf ceiling in the main lobby resulting in a six-alarm fire. Taliesin Associated Architects was commissioned to design and supervise the construction of the damaged floors, and a renovation of the resort. The concrete blocks were again molded on-site and the project was completed in a record 82 days.

In recent years the Biltmore has more openly acknowledged its Wright heritage with the construction of the Frank Lloyd Wright ballroom and the placement of eight Sprite sculptures around the grounds reconstructed from ones rescued from the demolished Midway Gardens which laid for years in a Wisconsin farmer's field.
Year Completed: 1929

Commissioned By: Albert Chase McArthur

Nearest City or Town: Phoenix, AZ

Public/Private: Public

Tours Available?: yes

Website: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
There are no specific visit requirements, however telling about your visit is strongly encouraged. Additional photos of the building or house to add to the gallery are also nice, but not required. Pictures with a GPS or you in them is highly discouraged.
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