Cornelia Brierly

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Dates of Birth and Death

April 12, 1913-August 24, 2012

Birthplace

Mifflin County, PA

Education

  • Cornell University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Carnegie Tech [1934?]

Affiliations/Firms

  • Taliesin Architects
  • Berndtson/Brierly

Major projects

  • Models for FLLW’s Broadacre City project
  • Taliesin West (contributor)
  • Hulda and Louise Notz House, West Mifflin, 1940
  • Arthur Jeffrey House (with Peter Berndtson), Allison Parks, PA, 1947
  • Edward Weinberger House (with Peter Berndtson), Squirrel Hill, PA, 1948
  • Joseph Katz/McComb House (with Peter Berndtson), West Mifflin, PA 1950
  • Abraam Steinberg House (with Peter Berndtson), Squirrel Hill, 1951
  • F. Esther Fineman House (with Peter Berndtson), Stanton Heights, PA, 1952
  • George Brayman House (with Peter Berndtson), Ben Avon Heights, PA, 1953
  • Saul Lipkind House (with Peter Berndtson), Swisshelm Park, PA, 1954

Awards, honors and press


Keywords

Arizona, Carnegie, Cornell, Fellowship, Frank Lloyd Wright, Pennsylvania, Pitt, Pittsburgh, Scottsdale, Taliesin, Taliesin West, fellow, interior, landscape, organic, residential

Biography

Early life and education

Cornelia Brierly was born April 12, 1913, in Mifflin County, PA. She grew up on a farm, where she was engaged with nature from a young age. After periods of study at Cornell University and University of Pittsburgh, Brierly came to Carnegie Tech (the former name of the institution known now as Carnegie Mellon University).  There, she was one of a group of five women who were the first to study architecture at the school. She told The Arizona Republic in summer 2012 that she found her studies at Carnegie Tech dull and sought excitement in design.  After reading a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright, she wrote a letter to the celebrated architect applying to a new fellowship at Taliesin. She became one of Wright’s first Fellows in 1934.

Career in Architecture

Under Wright, Cornelia studied architecture, interior design, and landscape design, which led to her contributions to a variety of projects by Taliesin Architects.  During her first few years, she worked on models for Wright’s Broadacre City, which she also presented to the public in Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. In 1937, Wright’s Fellows, including Brierly, moved to the Arizona desert to begin work on Taliesin West.  Brierly along with her colleagues lived in tents in the desert near Scottsdale while they collectively worked to design, construct, and finish the campus of Taliesin West. She recalled, “We had no idea what the outcome of it would be. But with Mr. Wright, it was all so exciting.”

At Taliesin, Cornelia met Peter Berendtson, who later became her husband.  In the mid-1940s, they moved to Western Pennsylvania and formed their own firm, where they primarily designed homes adhering to Wright’s theories of architecture derived from organic forms.  In 1956, she returned to Taliesin and the FLLW Foundation, working on architectural, interior, and landscape designs for Taliesin Architects and teaching at the Foundation. Brierly also served as a Trustee and later, Chairman, of the Board for the FLLW Foundation. After nearly seventy years of work at Taliesin, she published Tales of Taliesin: a Memoir of Fellowship (Pomegranate Communications, 2000). She died August 24, 2012.

Major Buildings and Projects

Models for FLLW’s Broadacre City project

Taliesin West (contributor)

Hulda and Louise Notz House, West Mifflin, 1940

Arthur Jeffrey House (with Peter Berndtson), Allison Parks, PA, 1947

Edward Weinberger House (with Peter Berndtson), Squirrel Hill, PA, 1948

Joseph Katz/McComb House (with Peter Berndtson), West Mifflin, PA 1950

Abraam Steinberg House (with Peter Berndtson), Squirrel Hill, 1951

F. Esther Fineman House (with Peter Berndtson), Stanton Heights, PA, 1952

George Brayman House (with Peter Berndtson), Ben Avon Heights, PA, 1953

Saul Lipkind House (with Peter Berndtson), Swisshelm Park, PA, 1954

Press and Awards

Garino, Agnes. “A Visit with Cornelia Brierly at Taliesin West.” The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park Newsletter Winter 2004. http://www.ebsworthpark.org/newsletterWI04.html

Haller, Sonja. “Pioneering architect Cornelia Brierly dies at 99.” The Republic August 27, 2012. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2012/08/29/20120829pioneering-architect-cornelia-brierly-dies.html

Hesselberg, George. “Woman believed to be older survivor of Taliesin Fellowship dies at 99.” Wisconsin State Journal August 24, 2012. http://host.madison.com/news/local/woman-believed-to-be-oldest-survivor-of-taliesin-fellowship-dies/article_086cec30-ee47-11e1-a47f-0019bb2963f4.html

Pitz, Marylynne. “Cornelia Brierly: The Pittsburgher in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Inner Circle,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette April 28, 2013. http://archrecord.construction.com/yb/ar/article.aspx?story_id=185019296

http://www.arizonafoothillsmagazine.com/features/features/4515-taliesin-west-wright-apprentices-celebrate-75-years.pdf

Writings

Brierly, Cornelia. Tales of Taliesin: A Memoir of Fellowship. Petaluma, CA: Pomegranate, 2000.

Institutional Affiliations

Cornell University (attended)

University of Pittsburgh (attended)

Carnegie Tech, 1934

Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture