Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture at Taliesin, which has campuses in both Arizona and Wisconsin, will close in June 2020, Archinect reported Tuesday.

After 88 years of operation, the school will shutter its doors because its Board and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation were unable to come to an agreement on how to continue operating as an accredited program.

The decision was “gut-wrenching,” a press release issued by the school said.

“The closure of the school is very emotional for our students, our faculty and staff and all of us who worked so hard for this one-of-a-kind institution and its important role in Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy. We did everything possible to fight for its survival but due to other forces it was not meant to be,” Dan Schweiker, chairperson of the Board of Governors for the school, said in a statement.

However, this is not the first time the school has faced challenges. In 2017, the school’s accreditation was threatened by new laws enacted by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) that mandated universities, colleges and other post-secondary institutions be financially and administratively independent from “larger institutions with multi-faceted missions.” In order to keep their accreditation, the school formally separated from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and removed “Frank Lloyd Wright” from the official name.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation issued its own press release yesterday that seemed to suggest the school’s woes were beyond the Foundation’s scope of support:

“In discussions between the organizations, [School of Architecture at Taliesin] Board leaders had communicated unequivocally to the Foundation that the School did not have a sustainable business model that would allow it to maintain its operation as an accredited program.”

Although the two entities had been in discussions to develop a plan that would enable the school to remain open through July 2021, the Foundation and the school’s Board were unable to agree upon a proposal.

As for the students who will not have finished their studies as of June, the school is in the process of developing an agreement with The Design School at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts so that these students can transfer credits there in order to finish their degree programs.

Despite the bleak news for the school, Stuart Graff, President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, emphasized to Inman that, “This news does not impact the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Taliesin West in Scottsdale or Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Taliesin West and Taliesin remain open and thriving, including tours, events, K-12 education programs and camps, live performances and more.”

Frank Lloyd Wright designed 1,114 architectural works during his lifetime, 532 of which came to fruition. In July, eight of his designed buildings were named Unesco World heritage sites, including both campuses of the school. Taliesin was a sixth-century Welsh poet, and the namesake of Wright’s original Taliesin estate (his primary residence, and one of the school’s campuses) in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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