Puma Press

Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

Arcosanti, an experimental self-contained town in central Arizona, designed by Paolo Soleri, is seen, July 1980. Arcosanti is also used as a visitors center.

AP Photo by Suzanne Vlamis

Arcosanti, an experimental self-contained town in central Arizona, designed by Paolo Soleri, is seen, July 1980. Arcosanti is also used as a visitors center.

Austin Bell, Online Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






[Correction April 18, 2018: An earlier version of this article transposed one of the sources names Keith Ladd should be Ladd Keith]

While walking and driving through Arizona you may come across a street named after the legendary artist and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His architectural sites are not only well known across the United States but through Arizona as well. According to franklloydwrightsights.com, there are 11 plus buildings all across Arizona including the Biltmore Hotel and Gammage Auditorium. Frank Lloyd Wright isn’t the only architect whose skills have shaped Arizona.

In the 1950s, Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri made his way to Scottsdale, Arizona and would give precedence not only to living spaces, but also keeping the natural environment intact as well. His vision, while possibly under-appreciated in his time, could help us in the present, especially with issues regarding the environment and climate change. Recently, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art held an exhibition titled “Repositioning Paolo Soleri: The City Is Nature.” The SCoMA website states, “‘The City Is Nature’ spans the breadth of Soleri’s ideas and practice, bringing together elements from his built and unbuilt residences, bridges, dams, cities and transportation systems.

In addition to original drawings, models and sketchbooks, the exhibition surveys the artist’s earliest ceramic and bronze artisan crafts, as well as fabric designs and silk screens.” With his passion for architecture and his mindfulness to keep the environment intact, he coined the term “Arcology.” This term is a portmanteau of the words architecture and ecology.

Arcology focuses on urban public spaces that are within easy reach of each other with walking as the main method of transportation. While Soleri’s arcology designs have never been implemented in a mainstream way, there is one project here in Arizona that shows what it could be like in the near future. Seventy miles north of Phoenix in Mayer, Arizona there is an experimental town called Arcosanti.

AP Photo by Kent Sievers
Architect Paolo Soleri visits his dream city of Arcosanti near Cordes Junction, Ariz., several times a week to oversee the work at the site and plan the future, March 28, 1985. But, compared to a decade ago, there is little work to oversee and the future looks dimmer for his project.

Ground was broken on the project in 1970 and since then has been worked on periodically up to the present day. During a period of 50 years, Soleri and a host of architect students and volunteers built up Arcosanti to most of the features expressed in arcology. The town contains apses, half-spherical domes and vaults, which are cylinder- like walkways that are open air and provide shade in the summer months. Currently, there has been an overwhelming response by the scientific community about the onset of climate change and overextending the natural resources available to us.

According to an article published by Nurith Aizenman, “As we improve the human condition — building sanitation facilities and expanding farming to provide more food, for example — we necessarily damage the environment. We cut down trees, we put fertilizers in the soil that kill off aquatic life, we pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.” These negative effects are seen in the United States.

A strong example would be California’s water crisis in 2014. While Arizona as a whole has never faced any level of a crisis, it’s more of a possibility in the future as the population grows and environmental resources start to decrease. There is no centralized idea of sustainability in the United States but particular states and cities practice it more than others. Arizona, and to a smaller extent Phoenix, is a place that practices sustainability. In a Phoenix Business Journal article, the city of Phoenix was able to reach 10th in the US Green Building Council’s annual Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification rankings. According to the same article, “To earn LEED certification, buildings are evaluated in categories such as materials, water, energy efficiency, sustainability and location. Projects accrue points in each criteria for meeting LEED standards and must earn at least 40 points to be considered certified. Some Arizona projects that were LEED certified in 2014 include the San Diego Padres Clubhouse in Peoria, the Arizona State Veterans Home in Tucson and the US Airways Corporate Center in Tempe.”

Also, not only has sustainability reached a corporate interest level, but many colleges have incorporated it into their schools as both a major and minor program. All three major universities in Arizona offers some type of degree in sustainability. Even at Paradise Valley Community College, there is a certificate that teaches the fundamentals of sustainability. Ladd Keith, Chair of the Sustainable Built Environments program at the University of Arizona, said, “The University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture worked on the creation of the program through 2011 and received approval for the B.S in Sustainable Built Environments degree program in 2012.

We had terrific interest in the program from the start and quickly grew to over one hundred students, and then launched our fully online degree in addition to the in-person program  through UA Online to serve students across the world.” Students in the program not only take on a number of interdisciplinary courses but also, go on to combine classroom learning with real-world situations to test out their skills. According to Mr. Keith, “The goal of our courses is to connect theory to practice and enable students to graduate as leaders of positive change in the community. All students complete a professional internship and a senior capstone project that connects their coursework to their professional interests with help from a mentor.” Soleri stated, “The city is the necessary instrument for the evolution of humankind.” As the standard of living increases, the way that we consume resources increase exponentially; this can cause conditions such as the California drought to become more prominent. Just as Soleri introduced his pioneering arcology philosophy, in the current day that has somewhat affected how we think about our relationship with our environment both consciously and subconsciously

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Superheroes are among us: College faculty battle for DACA children

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Talking Stick Resort pursues E-sports

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    College Life

    PVCC music department host two world music workshops

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    2018 Desperado LGBT Film Festival celebrates 9 years

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes encountered in Mexico, southwestern United States

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Percentage of food allergies rise in adults

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Fenty Beauty changes face of cosmetics

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Shemer Art Center Celebrates Dogs and Local Artists

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Fighting for the future of journalism

  • Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti

    Features

    Shopping in Hollywood erupts into violence

The Student News Site of Paradise Valley Community College
Architecture, ecology converge in Arcosanti