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Arcosanti: Architecture Meets Ecology in Arizona

I headed down an isolated desert dirt road in Arizona to the experimental community of Arcosanti, not knowing quite what to expect.

Arcosanti is a creative laboratory for innovative design strategies to combat urban sprawl. Located in the desert about 65 miles north of Phoenix (take exit 262 off I-17), it’s the brainchild of visionary designer Paolo Soleri. The 93-year-old Soleri was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Soleri had a falling out with the master and developed his own ideas about the future and possibilities of design.

Upon my arrival at Arcosanti, I took a walking tour of the grounds and exhibition area guided by one of the young residents. Exhibitions of designs and displays of Soleri’s books and papers reveal a glimpse into his design philosophy. He coined the term “arcology,” a combination of architecture and ecology.

This philosophy has manifested in Arcosanti, a work in progress since 1970. The various stages of Arcosanti’s development are chronicled through photographs, drawings and news clippings. Soleri believes that urban models of large cities such as Los Angeles are not sustainable. He suggests that various alternative design strategies, including megastructures, may offer an alternative to urban sprawl. Some critics have called him naïve, but he’s attracted throngs of followers, particularly among young designers and urban planners.

Visitors are welcome and can stay overnight in spartan rooms with a shared bathroom. My room offered a beautiful view of the surrounding desert. Concerts are often presented in the Colly Music Theater.

Check out arcosanti.org for more information. Paid positions and 3-month internship activities in a variety of areas are available. “Arcosanti – A Better Vision of How to Live,” an article by John Wolcott of the Boston Globe archived on the Arcosanti website, presents an excellent description of what the experience of living and working there is like.

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I headed down an isolated desert dirt road in Arizona to the experimental community of Arcosanti, not knowing quite what to expect.

Arcosanti is a creative laboratory for innovative design strategies to combat urban sprawl. Located in the desert about 65 miles north of Phoenix (take exit 262 off I-17), it’s the brainchild of visionary designer Paolo Soleri. The 93-year-old Soleri was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Soleri had a falling out with the master and developed his own ideas about the future and possibilities of design.

Upon my arrival at Arcosanti, I took a walking tour of the grounds and exhibition area guided by one of the young residents. Exhibitions of designs and displays of Soleri’s books and papers reveal a glimpse into his design philosophy. He coined the term “arcology,” a combination of architecture and ecology.

This philosophy has manifested in Arcosanti, a work in progress since 1970. The various stages of Arcosanti’s development are chronicled through photographs, drawings and news clippings. Soleri believes that urban models of large cities such as Los Angeles are not sustainable. He suggests that various alternative design strategies, including megastructures, may offer an alternative to urban sprawl. Some critics have called him naïve, but he’s attracted throngs of followers, particularly among young designers and urban planners.

Visitors are welcome and can stay overnight in spartan rooms with a shared bathroom. My room offered a beautiful view of the surrounding desert. Concerts are often presented in the Colly Music Theater.

Check out arcosanti.org for more information. Paid positions and 3-month internship activities in a variety of areas are available. “Arcosanti – A Better Vision of How to Live,” an article by John Wolcott of the Boston Globe archived on the Arcosanti website, presents an excellent description of what the experience of living and working there is like.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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