The value of Taliesin

October 20th

By: Jeffrey Chas. Raasch, AIA

I was once asked why I held Taliesin in such high esteem, and the first thought that entered my mind was a Walt Whitman verse from Leaves of Grass – O to realize space!  And that is precisely what continually draws me to the serene setting of the multiple structures and woven landscape integrated into the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin.  That sense of space, so masterfully crafted, is an ongoing lesson for anyone who has an appreciation and understanding of the theoretical origins of American architecture.  It continually brings you back to the fundamentals of integral architecture based on the study of nature.

As a practicing architect and native of Wisconsin, for as long as I can remember Taliesin has been that place of inspiration for me.  Since the mid-eighties, I have sojourned to Taliesin at least once a year to experience “space”, to be inspired by those essays in wood and stone to elevate my own understanding and approach to the practice of architecture.

The Assembly Hall at Hillside School.

That approach has blessed me with a long career in architecture spanning over 35-years with over eight million square feet of constructed space both nationally and internationally.  My work has encompassed not only the practical side as a partner with Flad Architects, but also on the theoretical side as I maintain ongoing research focused on “Organic Architecture” and as an occasional adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture.

This understanding of both the practical and theoretical sides of architecture is what drew me to accept the invitation by the Taliesin Preservation to become a board member.  The value that Taliesin provides as a place of inspiration and education is immeasurable and those of us who have reaped its benefits bear some responsibility to ensure that this National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage site, its buildings, and its culture is preserved to inspire future generations.

To now be part of a group of volunteers with a broad range of interests and experience who share a common passion and mission of being stewards of this unique property is a great honor.