Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Arizona Heritage Center, Part 2

Continuing the exploration of the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, on display was this sketch of a proposed San Marcos In the Desert Hotel. I found an interesting write-up on the Library of Congress website, "In 1928, beset by personal and financial difficulties, Wright again found himself with little work. Showing uncharacteristic humility, he agreed to consult with a former apprentice on the design of the Arizona Biltmore. His trip to Phoenix to accomplish that task led to a major proposal for a similarly luxurious resort: San Marcos in the Desert. It was commissioned in early April by Alexander J. Chandler (1859-1950), one of the area's successful developers. Wright wrote to his son, 'Phoenix seems to be the name for me too. . . . It looks as tho I was well started now for the last lap of my life and work.' By May 1928 he had a scheme for the resort in mind."

Additionally, "Chandler's site of some 1,400 acres, located south of Phoenix at the base of the Salt River Mountains, offers close views to a foreground enclosed by low hills with framed views to a greater vista beyond — not unlike the sites for Doheny, for Lake Tahoe, and for Johnson. Wright emphasized these different depth-planes in his composition, reinforcing a residential typology in which protective elements of the visible surroundings were balanced with open views suggestive of limitless space.

Chandler responded positively to Wright's proposal; working drawings were completed in 1929, and favorable estimates augured well for construction. The stock market crash in October, however, doomed the project. Grossly insensitive residential development now obscures much of the site".

This is a model of Ocatilla (also spelled, "Ocatillo" or "Ocotillo" after the large desert scrub that today is spelled "Ocotillo"). This compound was Wright's home and studio during the design process for San Marcos in the Desert. One of the important aspects of this location was the ability for Wright and his staff to experience the desert environment and how it impacts the design. Note the gray pile — which was a set of practice building blocks to determine their appearance and practicality.

In 1957, rumors were spread that the Arizona State Capitol building was going to be renovated. Wright decided to draft a design, working pro bono. The spire in this photo (by Margaret A. Wright) is all that was ever built from that design. It stands on Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. (naturally) in Scottsdale. I found a wonderful video from the Guggenheim about the design of the proposed State Capitol, including an animation of what it would have looked like. Click here.


These are sketches of the design. Just imagine what an impressive state capitol building we would have in Arizona. Too bad it was not to be.

Sorry, more photos of photos — this being the Gammage Auditorium on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. I have shared my own photos of this wonderful building. If you haven't seen them (or want to see them again) visit my 2016 index page and check out the February 8, 15, 22 and 29 issues. For the index page, click here.

Concluding the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit is this wonderful Lego Block rendering of Taliesin West by Adam Reed Tucker. The placard on this piece reads as follows, "As a child, Wright's fascination with his geometry-shaped building blocks fueled his interest in architecture. For Wright, geometry was the basic building block of nature. He believed that structure created beauty and geometric forms gave his work a consistent and systematic quality. Similarly, the mathematical relationship of one Lego block to another is representative of this approach to architecture. Lego building blocks, like Wright's Froebel blocks, provide infinite opportunities for young imaginations to create architectural masterpieces."

The next exhibit room focused on Arizona's natural history. Unfortunately, the low light level made hand-held photography difficult (since most museums do not allow tripods, I did not bring mine). Therefore, I only found a handful of photos to share — I guess, you'll have to visit the museum yourself.

This is a photo of a photo of a geoglyph — images formed on the earth, usually by scraping the top layer of soil to reveal a different color (non-oxidized) rock below with the excess forming a contrasting border. The images can be of any real or imagined being. Similar, more famous images are found in Peru. I found a good video with drone images of some geoglyphs found in Arizona and California. Click here.

This "rock" is actually a small fragment of a meteorite that stuck what is now northern Arizona about 49,000 years ago. The piece is high in iron content as shown by the red magnet for visitors to experiment with.

Here is beautiful piece of gypsum, although this one actually came from Australia, not Arizona. It is widely mined and is used as a fertilizer, and as the main constituent in many forms of plaster, blackboard chalk and wallboard. It is also quite beautiful in this crystalline form.

Azurite is a soft, deep blue copper mineral produced by weathering of copper ore deposits which are abundant in Arizona. It is used as a pigment and for jewelry. One of its most useful properties is as a surface indicator of copper ore in the vicinity.

Standing here is a large sample of native copper — an uncombined form of copper that occurs as a natural mineral. Copper is one of the few metallic elements to occur in native form, although it most commonly occurs in oxidized states and mixed with other elements. Native copper was an important ore of copper in historic times and was used by prehistoric peoples.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com