Soleri to be remembered for experimental community

April 09, 2013

Italian-born architect Paolo Soleri died today at 93. He had a long marriage, raised two daughters and wrote 22 books, but in Arizona he’ll be most remembered for one thing, Arcosanti. Soleri began designing the experimental community in 1970, and it’s been in a constant state of construction ever since.

DESCRIPTION Paolo Soleri died at 93 in Scottsdale Tuesday. He was most well-known in Arizona for his design and construction of Arcosanti, an experimental community north of Phoenix. (Photo courtesy of Arcosanti)











Simply, the site is Soleri’s legacy. Located about 70 miles north of Phoenix, Arcosanti has always been a place for architects to test how humans can live more harmoniously with nature and one another. Soleri even had a word for this effort, Arcology, as in a blend of architecture and ecology.

Jeff Stein is the head of the Cosanti Foundation, which is still building Arcosanti and which Soleri led until he was 92. Stein said Soleri always had a deep understanding of the Earth.

“And how to add to it, and how to become a part of it. How to make humans  instead of managers in opposition to some distant natural environment part of living ecology of the planet and how to make cities a part of that, too," Stein said.

Stein says he’ll miss Soleri but trusts Soleri’s vision will live on through Arcosanti. Originally meant to house 5,000 people, the site has about 100 permanent residents, including Stein.

Tens of thousands of others have helped in its construction over the last four decades. For those curious about Soleri, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting a show of his work through the end of the month.