The studio program was part of a “Campaign for Independence” at Taliesin, under which they needed to raise $2 million in funds for the school, so that it could operate independently from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Building support for the campaign and the Globe-Miami Studio Project fell to Donofrio, who began a series of public and private meetings with area stakeholders beginning in August.
“We were incredibly excited about the area’s history, landscape, cultural diversity and community engagement,” says Donofrio, adding that the lack of rural data also intrigued them.
“Half of the United States is rural,” he notes, “and yet there is very little data in these areas for architects to go off of.” It is something he believes the school may take a leading role on through this project.
The school – founded on the teachings and inspiration stemming from their famous founder, Frank Lloyd Wright – loves nothing better than breaking new ground, going where others have not, and working in a collaborative laboratory.
“Taliesin aims to be a place that doesn’t just produce beautiful buildings, but changes the way people live,” says Donofrio.
Overwhelming Support from Locals
By December the Campaign for Independence had received more than 70 letters of support from public and private sources and $785,000 in pledge amounts, to be spread over a four-year period. The Gila County Industrial Development Authority, with members in both northern and southern Gila County, was one of those who gave their support, pledging $200,000 over the next four years.
“We felt it (the four-year studio project) was a perfect fit with other projects we are undertaking to encourage further investment and opportunities in Gila County,” says Sandy Palmer, the Administrative Manager for the IDA.
She is referring to IDA’s recent application for a $400,000 Brownsfield grant which will help property owners address environmental contamination, and a joint partnership with the county to submit a Promise Zone application later this year which, if successful, would give the region preferential treatment on federal grants for the next ten years.
Bryan Seppala, Vice President of the Southern Gila County Economic Development Corporation, is another who says the Taliesin studio project aligns with their priorities of developing an attractive and compelling brand that supports business and tourism development.
“This project definitely fits into that model,” he says.
The SGEDC was one of many stakeholders in Globe-Miami that signed letters of support for the project, and Seppela says they are looking forward to working with the school in the future.
The United Fund of Globe-Miami stepped up in a big way when they announced their pledge of $100,000 a year towards the project.
“We saw this as a rare window of opportunity to tap into the school’s talent, vision, resources and planning to address a wide range of needs in our area,” says Linda Oddonetto, Board President. “And we believe the collaboration between Taliesin and those throughout our community will elevate us as a whole and be a positive impact on many of the agencies we already currently serve.”
Both Capstone Mining and BHP also made pledges, as did more than 30 small business owners and individuals – including business owners Bob Zache in Miami and Tony Brusca in Globe – who believe the Taliesin/Globe-Miami project will help to revitalize the downtown districts and bring about more investment in the community as a whole.
The Next Step
“When the campaign started, nothing was set in stone, although we had identified approximately two dozen potential areas,” says Donofrio. These included the gateways to the downtown districts, highway blight, mixed-use public areas, and downtown revitalization.
“As we talked to more people, we remained open to additional ideas, and if something made sense we put it on the table and agreed to look at it as part of this project.”
As the school gets underway this winter, the students and Donofrio will evaluate all ideas garnered from the meetings they’ve had with people throughout the Globe-Miami community and begin to prioritize projects. They will be helped by a local advisory board which Donofrio has put together, however, he points out the final decision on projects remains with the school, which must ensure the curriculum based on Globe-Miami projects meets the accreditation guidelines and serves to further student’s education toward their Masters of Architecture.
Donofrio explains that planning for the project will begin with big-picture decisions. “Basically, we start at the 10,000-foot level and work backwards,” he says, adding that one of the first steps will be to set objectives.
Increasing investment throughout the local community may be one of the objectives, says Donofrio. How do we do this? “It can take many forms, but the exciting thing about a studio project is – of all the things we think can be done, and the ideas discussed so far – the best is yet to be discovered,” explains Donofrio.
“After all, the students haven’t yet really sat down with people and initiated a project,” says Donofrio, adding that once that begins to happen, it is the nature of studio projects to expand upon and open up opportunities that were previously not there.
As the Grand Experiment gets underway the possibilities that lie ahead for this new-found partnership between the rural community of Globe-Miami and the world-renowned architectural school Taliesin, has many excited about the future; and yes, believing that the best is yet to come.
Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.