As BG’s president, I am writing today’s blog to honor the visionary architect, Paolo Soleri who died April 9, 2013. Paolo Soleri was an innovative builder and philosopher who designed and built an ornate utopian community on a desert mesa in Arizona, Arcosanti. In 1970, Soleri coined the word, arcology, a combination of ecology and architecture to describe his sparse solution to urban sprawl. Arcosanti was his dream “house”; the creation of a multi-faceted bee-hive structure to house an entire city. Arcosanti was to be a compact, yet soaring self-sufficient, self-contained community, committed to social interaction laced with commitment to recycling and renewable energy resources. Arcosanti was to be a model modern city within, and the wilds and beauty of nature, without, left unharmed and unblemished.
Ecology, environmentalism and the preservation of Earth’s resources informed Soleri’s bold experiment but his vision at Arcosanti was never fulfilled. His urban experiment lost its vitality and appeal as the community was deemed too rigid, lacking creative diversity to engender growth and change.
As a teacher in the 70’s, Soleri’s philosophy about space, sprawl and saving resources, was a dramatic idea that my students and I explored as we created our own hand-crafted utopias as we dreamed about a perfect place to live. Today, Paolo Soleri is still talking to me as I try to inspire a home, a dwelling, that is intimate, organic and unique for you.