The HCL, which is a non-profit organisation responsible for overseeing the accreditation of universities and colleges, has informed Wright’s School of Architecture that it will lose its accreditation to teach Masters from 2017 onward unless it separates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the parent organisation of the architecture school.
The loss of accreditation will mean that qualifications awarded by the school will no longer be formally recognised by America’s registration boards, therefore students will no longer be eligible to take the Architectural Registration Exam to become licensed architects.
John Hausman, a spokesman for the HLC told USA Today that “Accredited institutions must be separately incorporated from sponsoring organisations.” The school is being funded by the Wright’s foundation.
“This would require the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, which is not currently separately incorporated, to file for incorporation as an institution with a primary purpose of offering higher education,” he added.
Rewarded official accreditation in 1992, the school gained high status for its “learning by doing” approach and only teaches around 20 students.
Wright founded the school in 1932, creating an institution where students could learn from actively participating in their art, studying painting, sculpture, music, drama and dance. Wright believed these disciplines would help create more well-rounded designers.
Dezeen reports that the approach began to change in the mid-1980s due to the introduction of a more formal licencing system for architects in the US, with accredited qualifications becoming a pre-requisite to sitting the Architectural Registration Examination.
However, the president of the Foundation, Sean Malone said that separating the institution from the Foundation would cause issues with the funding.
He explained that the Foundation would have to provide $1m every year to keep the school running but would have no control over how the money is being spent.
“I wish that they had looked at us and said, ‘the foundation as a whole is an institution of higher education’,” Malone told the Architectural Record. “But that’s not the determination they came to.”
Following two years of discussion, the foundation failed to find a solution. The HCL has now given the school three years to make changes before the next accreditation cycle.
“We’re going to be looking for another accredited institution with whom to partner so we can jointly offer a professional degree,” Malone told the New York Times. “There’s a very rich history to education at Taliesin and we want to find a way to continue to do that.”