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© Copyright 2017 by MP Media, LLC

Protégé 

PROFILE

s

Waback

 

ON

 F

RaNk

 l

lOyd

 W

RIght

:

“How is it that this lone architect who  
was born just two years after the Civil War  
and lived most of his life in remote, hard- 
to-reach places remains the singular  
iconic name? It implies that his life and  
work represents something that we might  
want to be more interested in exploring.”

According to one of Swaback’s books, “The Creative 
Community,” FLW had once declared he learned to see 
architecture as an edifice of sound. Perhaps this could have 
been a reason that led to him bringing on melodic trumpet 
player, Swaback, at the ripe age of 17 as a member of his 
Taliesin Fellowship – making Swaback the youngest person 
ever to be invited in.

Or perhaps the reason was the young man’s impressive 
answer to FLW’s questioning of why he wanted to drop out 
of the University of Illinois: “They were beginning to teach 
preconceived ideas.”

Furthermore, maybe what really locked Swaback in was 
his persuasive letter upon receiving golden advice from a 
few of FLW’s current apprentices at the Sheraton Hotel in 
Chicago on October 17, 1956, which Mayor Richard Daley 
proclaimed to be “Frank Lloyd Wright Day.”

However the relationship was planted, an eventual 
arrangement sprouted for a fellowship at the summer home 
of FLW: Taliesin – where Swaback attributes much of what 
he knows today about design.

Born and raised in the inner city of Chicago, Vernon D. 
Swaback left his architectural studies at the University of 
Illinois to pursue the highly coveted apprenticeship with 
Frank Lloyd Wright, spending summers at Taliesin in 
Wisconsin and winters at Taliesin West in Arizona from 
1957 until FLW’s death two years later. 

“[What you need to understand is] Wright’s idea of luxury 
wasn’t anything that money alone could buy. It was to 
live with beauty and culture and to be able to associate 
with intelligent people and the bounty of nature,” 

 

Swaback says. 

N

aturally, as an accomplished 
architect and a proud protégé 
of the late Frank Lloyd Wright, 
Vernon Swaback has quoted 
his renowned mentor in many 
of his published books – but he 
is also recognized as a larger-
than-life legend today.