Frank Lloyd Wright Designs Arizona Beta House


From the November 1963 issue of The Scroll

The late great architect. Frank Lloyd Wright, Wisconsin 1889, paved a career in architecture that may never be surpassed. His fabulous accomplishments are a matter of record and known throughout the world. Few realize, however, that Brother Wright designed only one fraternity house. This is the home of Phi Delta Theta’s Arizona Beta Chapter at Arizona State University in Tempe.

The story begins on November 28, 1958, the day Phi Delta Beta colony became a chapter of Phi Delta Theta. Founder of the group, E. V. Graham, Colorado College 1926, and present Chapter Adviser Vic Kramer, Arizona State ’61, immediately started action on the proposal of a new house. The dreams of these men became a reality in 1959 when Brother Wright and his foundation agreed to do the architectural work for the fraternity house. Finally, in December of 1961, funds provided by a long-term loan were appropriated and construction began. Brother Wright did not live to see the project develop, but his foundation closely carried out his original plans.

The fraternity house was ready for occupancy in September 1962. The structure, now over a year in use, has been a special sight to see for the many winter visitors in the Valley of the Sun.

The fifty-two-man house was built at a cost of $230,000. Most of $11,000 (additional cost) inventories in furniture was paid by the Phoenix Alumni Club. The style of the house is one of definite modern design. Linear lines surrounding circular centers is characteristic of the living room, kitchen, and sun deck.

The house is partially separated into two units. The front unit consists of the living quarters of the housemother and president, dining room, living room, and kitchen. The back unit includes the study rooms and sleeping porch. The arrangement of separating sleeping facilities from the study rooms, as developed by Brother Wright, has proven to be of benefit to the-scholarship program. Before the move into the new chapter house the Phis ranked fourteenth of seventeen fraternities in campus scholarship. After one year in the new house the Arizona Beta scholarship index jumped to first on campus. This is truly a remarkable improvement, reflecting largely the environmental situation found in the new chapter house.

One of the features of the house is a large sundeck upstairs where dances are held when the weather is mild. It also provides a location for the brothers to sun-bathe year-round, as temperatures in December of 70° are commonplace.

If you are ever in the greater Phoenix area, you are most welcome to come to the chapter house in Tempe. All parents. Phoenix alumni, and Arizona Beta alumni were encouraged to attend the fifth anniversary of our chapter on November 16–17, Homecoming weekend.