ADOT Plans Frank Lloyd Wright Influences on South Mountain Freeway

This rendering shows the planned aesthetics, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, along the new South Mountain Freeway. | Courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation

A new stretch of freeway in the Phoenix area will incorporate the aesthetics of one of Arizona's best-known architects.

The South Mountain Freeway, a stretch of State Route 202 (aka Loop 202) that will run south of South Mountain in Phoenix, is slated to open at the end of 2019. When it does, drivers may notice shades of Frank Lloyd Wright on the segment of freeway between Ahwatukee Foothills and the Interstate 10/Santan Freeway interchange.

Wright actually lived in the area in the 1920s, building a temporary settlement, "Ocatillo," near what is now 32nd Street. At the time, the architect was designing a luxury resort for the foothills of South Mountain. Those plans were doomed by the stock market crash of 1929, but Wright's influence endures in the Phoenix area, particularly at the David and Gladys Wright House, Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium and Taliesin West.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says drivers on the new freeway will see horizontal lines along on sound walls and retaining walls. Horizontal lines were a hallmark of Wright designs, and they contrast with the vertical lines used on other Valley freeways.

Additionally, simple materials in the patterns on architectural features of the freeway will celebrate the area's desert landscape and vegetation — a nod to Wright's commitment to "organic architecture."

Look for a story about Frank Lloyd Wright in an upcoming issue of Arizona Highways.

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