From November 8 to 30, 1999, Arizona State University presented "The Prairie School in Arizona: Albert Chase McArthur and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel," an exhibition purporting to prove that McArthur designed the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
To some, it is laughable to call Albert Chase McArthur, son of early Wright client Warren McArthur (S.011), the architect of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Were he, he would have been the second greatest architect of the 20th century, but what other building credited to him proves his adequacy to that title?
As to the Arizona Biltmore design, maybe McArthur can be credited
with basic layout, but what was put on that layout, is it not
Wright's? Once Wright finished his design and left Phoenix, McArthur
began his alterations to the beautifully-proportioned project,
raising four floors where Wright would have had three, three where
Wright would see fit for two, and so forth.
Consider what McArthur built;
Then consider what it might have looked like had a Wrightian proportion prevailed;
If we look at the east end of the structure, the change may seem subtle from McArthur's overblown building;
to what Frank Lloyd Wright's better-proportioned approach might have looked like;
Let us consider specifics. Here is Frank Lloyd Wright's Gillen Residence (S.338).
Look at the roof and how it is surmounted. Compare this with the roof of the Aztec Theatre of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
Would Wright have used a roof designed by Albert Chase McArthur on one of his houses twenty-three years later?
One last consideration, the Gold Room restaurant at the west end of the Hotel structure.
The windows to the south let in almost too much light, but this can be reduced by translucent curtains. Here, at night, is the view, south to the right, with artificial light. Imagine this by day, similarly lit by daylight from the large southern windows, but with clerestory windows on the north providing light the smaller lights provide in our night photo. McArthur's design eliminated the clerestory one would have expected in a Wright design.
The materials in this and related web pages are copyright © MMX William Allin Storrer.