Biltmore Hotel

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Biltmore Hotel

Post by pharding »

I just returned from five days at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. I came away with the highest admiration for this great building, convinced that the design can only be attributed to FLW. His fingerprints are everywhere in the original building. The siting of the building and the master plan are masterful. The textile block and its resulting aesthetic all recall FLW's LA textile block houses of the twenties. This and Taliesin West both combine to make a fine trip to Phoenix for the FLW enthusiast. I highly recommend a stay at the Arizona Biltmore. It is an intriguing building to explore.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | | LinkedIn

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Alas, there is too much documentation proving the work to be largely that of MacArthur. The name of the designer of the block pattern is also known. I believe it was Bob Sweeny who found that bit of information. I have always maintained that FLW was brought into the process after foundations had been laid for much of the structure so there was not a great deal he could do about the logic of the plan. He apparently added certain refinements, such as the polygonal club room next to the main entrance, and perhaps he even rearranged the entrance itself. I find it unlikely that he had anything to do with design of the cottages. It is also necessary for visitors who don't know that much about the building to be aware that TAA extended it considerably in the 70s using a faux textile block system. It is, nevertheless, a spectacular building. If San Marcos in the Desert had been built, it would be easier to distinguish between FLW's contributions to Biltmore and MacArthur's original work.

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Post by DRN »

A question for Mr. Harding:

Did you happen to look carefully at the black and white period photos of the Biltmore displayed throughout the public spaces? There are one or two photos which clearly show the Pauson house pre-fire in the distance to the east of the hotel. The balconies at the east end of the east/west corridors of the upper floors of the main building would have had excellent views of the Pauson house. I gained a new respect for this lost work in these photos having seen it in the context of it's little hill in the open desert with the larger hills and mountains beyond.

I had the pleasure of attending a Lodging Industry conference there in Fall '96,'97, and '98, and booked a room each time in the original portions of the building. I agree Wright's hand is evident in the original bulding. I particularly enjoyed taking a break between sessions at the seating areas on the mezzanine above the lobby. The lighting, the sound of water, and the scale had the effect of both calming and re-energizing me.

Thanks for jogging my memory.

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Post by Reidy »

I've long thought that the Imperial Hotel is the best evidence that Wright didn't play a major role at the Biltmore. The latter's public spaces are a series of rigidly lined-up rectangular volumes; they're open to each other, but they don't intersect the way spaces do in even his smallest interiors. Photos of comparable parts of the Imperial show a much more imaginative veaving of spaces and solids.


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