When the Arizona Biltmore Hotel opened in February 1929, Frank Lloyd Wright unexpectedly ran into Harold McCormick. The chance meeting resulted in one of Wright’s more unusual unexecuted designs, one that eventually influenced others. Twenty years earlier, Wright had designed a grand, unbuilt estate on the edge of Lake Michigan for McCormick and his first wife. But in Arizona in 1929, McCormick was in the company of a young woman called Elizabeth Noble. Wright was accompanied by Olgivanna, his new wife and the mother of their young child. Having younger women on their arms momentarily bonded the men: Wright was sixty-one, McCormick fifty-six; Olgivanna was thirty, Elizabeth twenty-six.

No doubt neither man discussed Edith Rockefeller, McCormick’s first wife, nor their major project that she had blocked. The couples parted, and Wright never mentioned the encounter in his...


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