Tour Frank Lloyd Wright's architectures :
Arizona Biltmore Hotel - 1
(Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

In Phoenix, the state capital of Arizona, many Frank Lloyd Wright's works are in existence. The Taliesen West as the representative work, a church, many private residences and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel with a tender story.

As for the reason why it is a tender story, there are various opinions on how far Wright had even related to the design of this hotel. Although the Woldorf-Astoria , which manages the hotel, pushes forward the name of Wright considerably, it is said in actuality that Albert MacArthur, who had been the son of a client of Wright and has worked in his office, designed under the editorial supervision and the patent of concrete block of Wright.

However, the story had been dragged up repeatedly because this hotel had have a quality appropriate to the Wright's work. It is said that Wright, who saw the completed architecture, criticized "the proportion has broken since 2 stories was changed into 4 stories" or was displeased at that MacArthur had adopted no concrete block structure but concrete and steel structure. His word seems to have been a paradoxical expression to that MacArthur realized a wonderful piece though the participation of Wright had been few.

Although it is impolite to Albert MacArthur, it often happens that a great adherent realizes a work like the master's work more than the master himself designs. Since an adherent observes the subject objectively, he would extract the essence of the master splendidly. The impression of the hotel that I had in fact was that it was a simple Wright's work. If Wright had devoted himself to the design, it would be more decorative and in a muddle probably. It is an architecture which makes think about the relation between originality and imitation.

In February of 1929, the hotel started a business. The Great Depression that would occur in October of the same year was close at hand. Two elder brothers of MacArthur and the founder of the Biltmore Hotel Chain, John Baumann, cooperated in order to build a resort for passing the winter in Phoenix that had a population of 50,000 in that time.

In order to manufacture 250,000 concrete blocks from the sand of the site, the factory was built at the construction site, and, a roof was finished with copper plate out of respect for the mining industry of Arizona and an interior ceiling was painted with gold leaf by the reason that the re-painting would be unnecessary. The construction cost swelled more than twice and took 2,250,000 dollars totally in those days. Although it had turned into a fire and had renovated many times over, the big reason why the hotel had survived as a highest-class hotel for 90 years would be because it had been constructed sumptuously.

The hotel doesn't clothe the low-cost image which usually accompanies a concrete block as a material. The exterior appearance and the interior have grace, and a delicate texture by air bubbles and a pattern of embossing are unexpectedly elegant.

The lobby is articulated by hanging and embedding incandescent lamps which coincide with the gate type frame of a concrete block. An image that the space continuous infinitely under the ceiling of gold leaf is created. In the banquet room with mural paintings of the Pueblo style on the background, the ceiling of gold leaf like origami reflects an outdoor sign and the lamps, and that is like a vision. It is a space which is only here in the world.

Another wonderful charm is the landscape design that the main building and villas dot in a garden, borrowing the scenery of a rough rocky mountain Squaw Peak (Next Page). It must had been MacArthur's skill, and a new villa also succeeds the concept. The whole site is designed as guests can circulate by a walk way. The lodgings that looks like a pavilion, a flower bed, a fountain and a pool are united into one. When I took a walk in the early morning when there is no one, I felt that I wandered in a big park dotted with cultural facilities.

To Japanese Version

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30 minutes by car from downtown Phoenix.

Arizona Biltmore Hotel

City of Phoenix
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2018.01 Photos and text in English version and Japanese version


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Arizona Biltmore Hotel (1929) 

Photo by Daigo Ishii