Architect Paolo Soleri, 1919-2013. Photo: Sante Fe New Mexican

[Des visited Arcosanti as a child and still has a couple of ceramic “windbells” hanging in the living room window.]

PHOENIX, 9 April 2013 (Sante Fe New Mexican) – Italian-born architect Paolo Soleri, who designed what for years was Santa Fe’s most popular music venue before moving on to Arizona to build a futuristic community called Arcosanti, died Tuesday. He was 93.
Officials of the Cosanti Foundation said Soleri died of natural causes at his Paradise Valley home.

Soleri was born in Turin, Italy, on June 21, 1919. His birthday fell on the summer solstice; the sun is the focal point of Soleri’s architectural designs.

He came to the United States in 1947 and spent one and a half years in fellowship with famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in Scottsdale and at Taliesin East in Wisconsin.

In 1955, after designing a ceramics plant in Italy and adapting ceramics-making to architecture, Soleri came to Santa Fe to design an amphitheater on the campus of the Santa Fe Indian School using earth-casting. The technique involves pouring concrete into preshaped earthen molds, then excavating away the earth after the concrete hardens.

Because of changes in the school, which was in the midst of creating the Institute of American Indian Arts, the amphitheater wasn’t finished for a decade. […]

After less than a year in Santa Fe in the mid-1950s, Soleri, his wife and children moved to Arizona, where he bought land for the Cosanti Foundation complex in Scottsdale and began to make sand-cast ceramic and bronze “windbells.” He said he considered settling in Santa Fe, but found its winters too cold to work outside year-round. […]

In 1970, Soleri broke ground on Arcosanti on the basalt cliffs overlooking the Agua Fría River in Cordes Junction about 70 miles north of Phoenix.

Soleri had said he dreamed of buildings and people interacting as a “highly evolved being.” The sun would warm residents, the breeze would cool them and nature would surround them. The buildings would soar, reaching toward the sky with small apartments and large public spaces.

Soleri preached community and conservation. Arcosanti would be his experiment of thousands of people living together on 860 acres of desert to teach the world how to grow. He called the vision “arcology,” a word he invented combining architecture and ecology.

But the futuristic community is only about 5 percent complete, and fewer than 90 people live at Arcosanti. [more]

Paolo Soleri, 1919-2013: Architect dies in Arizona



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