Four Skylight Tiles from the Arizona Biltmore
USA, 1927
Albert Chase McArthur

Cast milk glass, copper
17¾ × 1¼ × 13½”

Educated at the Armour Institute of Technology (later the Illinois Institute of Technology) and Harvard University, Albert Chase McArthur studied with famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright between 1907 and 1909. McArthur continued his education in Austria and Italy, opening an architectural firm in Chicago with partner Arthur S. Coffin in 1912. McArthur moved his practice to Phoenix in 1925 and finally to Hollywood, California in 1932. While in Phoenix, McArthur designed the famous Arizona Biltmore Hotel. McArthur used textile block-slab construction to conform to the surrounding desert environment, softened with perforated design blocks to let in natural light. The Biltmore design illustrates McArthur's preference to let construction materials themselves suggest appropriate design motifs. —ASU Library

While there has always been some controversy over the true architect of the Arizona Biltmore, the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on the hotel is undeniable. The architect of record was Albert Chase McArthur, a student of Wright who worked as a draftsman in Wright’s Oak Park studio. When charged with the commission to build the luxury hotel, McArthur turned to his one-time teacher to serve as consulting architect and oversee construction using Wright’s Textile Block system. Wright accepted, “I gladly turned into quarters at Phoenix and worked some nine months during a characteristic Phoenix summer (118 degrees in the shade) to help Albert establish the thing wanted.” The resulting design, from the concrete exterior to the thick glass block windows, exudes Wright’s style and illustrates the magnitude of his influence. —Wright

(Photo: Wright)