Frank Lloyd Wright and the Arizona Biltmore: 'The building speaks for itself'

Thanks to Sharon Boorstin for her piece about the Arizona Biltmore, a favorite destination for me and my wife for many years ["Architectural Gem and a Destination Oasis," Nov. 19].

I think Boorstin can put at least some air back in the bubble that was burst by the concierge who told her that Albert MacArthur was the architect, not Frank Lloyd Wright, who was a mere "consultant."


That view is disputed, for Wright's role is not at all clear. Even the private letters of the two men are full of ambiguity regarding who did what.

Although MacArthur is the architect of record, the building is listed and described in major books about Wright.

For example, William Allin Storrer, wrote in his "Complete Catalog" that "MacArthur's major activity in the project was the preparation of the working drawings."

And in his three-volume set on the complete works of Wright, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, the longtime Wright archivist, devotes a page to the building and indicates the murky history: In 1928 Wright wrote that MacArthur was the architect, but in the early 1950s, when answering a question about why he didn't come right out and say that he designed the building, Wright replied only that "The building speaks for itself."

I think that's the best answer. Wright was that rare architect who could create a unique world inside his buildings, and that world — at least for me — pervades the Arizona Biltmore. The building does indeed speak for itself.

Mike Berliner

Los Angeles

Walking while looking at one's phone in Hawaii is now a violation, and those daydreaming walkers can now be ticketed up to $35, according to a Need to Know item in the Nov. 12 Travel section ["Call It a Texting Violation," by Jay Jones].

I've seen people do that and wind up bumping into other people and objects, usually with no serious injuries. Citing people for walking and texting is a fairly simple task for officials because of slow speeds.

But ticketing people who text while driving is another matter that must be attended to in a much more serious manner.

Although it has been illegal to text and drive for a few years now, that law apparently has little or no effect on those who continue to text and drive without considering the perils in which they put others.

It's time for new, strong deterrents to remedy the growing danger of those drivers who text.

Bill Spitalnick

Newport Beach


I found the article on rental cars and toll roads interesting and useful ["Car Rental Fees Take a Toll," On the Spot, by Catharine Hamm, Oct. 22]. This is a pet peeve of mine because I often rent a car and then seem to use the transponder on a single day. Worse, the Henry Hudson Bridge, my favorite route into Manhattan, has done away with toll booths, so at the end of a couple of weeks driving upstate to visit family, I then get dinged for crossing a single bridge.

A comment and an experience:

First, we have a transponder and apparently some toll roads require that it be used only in cars that you have registered with the toll agency. We recently changed the plates on our car (we purchased Yosemite plates), but neglected to notify the agency.

Subsequently we got dinged on the 91 toll lanes because we had unregistered plates. We had driven on other roads such as the 110 with no problem. The toll agency knew who we were; in fact, it took the fine out of our account, but the fine stood.

Using a personal transponder with a rental car will not work on all toll roads; and, of course, in different parts of the country and world the transponders are different. It is a nuisance to figure out the toll roads in a state or country before you take a trip.

I think that we need legislation to stop the overbilling scam by rental companies.

Second, some years ago we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and stopped and paid the toll. Then I asked the toll-taker if my Southern California FasTrak would work. She looked at her screen, said yes and that I had already paid and handed back my money. The FasTrak was in the glove compartment.

Vince Buck