The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation announced today that it appointed Aaron Betsky as the new dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Betsky is currently a blogger of ARCHITECT’s “Beyond Buildings” series, and teaches an architecture studio at the University of Cincinnati. This year, he will co-direct the Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in China. Betsky previously served as director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, and head of the 11th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2008 Venice Biennale. He has also authored dozens of books on art, architecture, and design.
As dean, Betsky will be in charge of the school’s academic programs, personnel, students, finances, and character, as well as playing a role in the broader missions of the foundation. He is "expected to set the intellectual tone" for the school, which includes campuses at Taliesin West Scottsdale, Ariz., and Taliesin in Spring Green, Wis. Betsky will also work to tackle the school’s financial challenges, according to a press release by the foundation.
Betsky is taking over as dean at a rocky time in the school’s history, which dates back to the establishment of the Taliesin Fellowship in 1932. Threatening the loss of its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, the school is currently fundraising to be able to support its independent incorporation and financial autonomy. To achieve independence, the school must receive gifts and pledges for an initial $1 million by March 27, and gifts and pledges for an additional $1 million by Dec. 31. Maura Grogan, chair of the School's Board of Governors, called the fundraiser "the only opportunity to save the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture as we know it," in a press release from Dec. 12, 2014.
Betsky expressed his enthusiasm and optimism for leading the fundraising campaign to raise the necessary funds to achieve the school’s autonomy as an independent subsidiary of the foundation. He says that the campaign is "well underway," mentioning galas planned for Feb. 7 and March 14 in Scottsdale and Los Angeles, respectively, and adding that he hopes "people who believe in architecture as a way to make the world better" will contribute to the fundraising efforts.
"We sought a Director who, like Wright, relishes invention, challenge, and discovery; someone who is excited to chart architecture’s next frontier; a person who in a time of conformity understands the beauty of idiosyncrasy; a leader who is ready to speak enthusiastically and persuasively to a profession in need of direction," said Grogan in the press release. "It is clear to us that Aaron is that person."
"Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture broke the box and opened vistas towards a democratic landscape; he made organic architecture and built with, rather than on, the land before anybody talked about sustainable architecture," said Betsky in today’s press release. "I look forward to continuing the traditional of experimental architecture he did so much to define by helping new generations to discover how they can use design to make our world better."
Check out Betsky's "Beyond Buildings" blog here.