Arcosanti - An Urban Laboratory in the Arizona Desert.

Paolo Soleri

Today, we celebrate the birth of Paolo Soleri with a focus on his last proposal.

[written and compiled by Kyle Larimer]

Born in Turin, Italy in 1919, Paolo Soleri would become an internationally acclaimed visionary, renowned for his forethought on the nature of the 20th century’s most dire consequents.

Denouncing the bloating waste of urban sprawl, Paolo worked tirelessly to transform the nature of urban design, such that human habitat would properly reflect the imperative of planetary change. He called his response to this imperative “the lean alternative,” pronouncing, “life of a lean nature might become optimal if not indispensable.”

Soleri refined his designs for this necessary change in urban planning over many years, developing, intently, his concept of “arcology,” the marriage of human architecture with planetary ecology. This long-term development culminated in his last project, the Lean Linear Arterial City.

Here, in celebration of Paolo Soleri’s life and in celebration of his untiring efforts, we take a look at the Lean Linear Arcology project.

PAOLO SOLERI:

“Arterial city is consequent to fifty or so years of planning conjectures. It proposes a coherent geometry for urban evolution in the present circumstances. It is timely and indispensable as a medium attempting to bond together (religare) some of the imperatives that we as society have generated and are in need of resolving.”


“Lean Linear Arterial Arcology proposes a dense and continuous urban ribbon consisting of interlinked city modules designed to take advantage of regional wind patterns and solar radiation, both photovoltaic and greenhouse. The habitat “coincides” with logistical channels by incorporating the means of transit within the societal presence; that is, hyperlogistics are embedded within hyperurban structures.”


 “The largest sector of infrastructure needing radical reformulation is the one dealing with logistics and its far-reaching presence in all aspects of life. It might turn out that human habitat has to be realigned with the logistical grids serving it. That requires urban ribbons of modest width incorporating parallel roads, cycling pathways, public transit services, and stations for local, regional, continental trains. Transversal to the urban ribbon, the servo-systems complete the logistical grid.”

“Lean Linear proposes a continuous urban ribbon of 20 or more stories high, extending for many kilometers. According to preliminary projections, each “module” of the city measuring 200m in length accommodates about 3000 residents and the spaces for production commercial, institutional, cultural, recreational, and health activities. In a matter of a few minutes the pedestrian can reach most of the locations in his or her daily routine.”
 

“In the arterial city, 5 min on the train plus a 5 min walk takes you where you choose or need to be (daily cycles). In 5 min on the train you could traverse ten “mini provinces” (modules), each with its own distinct flavor akin to New York’s ethnic neighborhoods.”

“Although a single module inhabited by 3000 residents is a relatively modest urban enterprise, a fully developed lean urban ribbon (tens or hundreds of kilometers) would be able to employ a very large, skilled, and diverse labor pool. As an infrastructural system advancing across the whole continent, LLAC could advance in parallel, coupling with each other within areas of highly concentrated population.”
 
“The arterial modularity asks “local” designers to achieve the right fit by and for the “residents.” To illustrate: In the first act, a moving machine rolls out the skeletal frame of Lean Linear, one module after another. In the second act\, local and regional interest enter the three-dimensional frame and bring the modules to life by designing and building according to specific, local needs.”

“Circumstances on a crowded planet are demanding urban systems of all sizes and originality that coordinate in continental hyperorganisms, producing a homospherical network of arterial cities. Time to get planners and architects to ponder their responsibility in comprehensibly reformulating the landscape. The moment is unequaled in view of the transformative power of the production and marketing avalanches that Homo faber is generating. Evolution might well be poised for an unparalleled acceleration, courtesy of learning and doing’s new technologies.”

Excepts from:

Soleri, P., et al. Lean Linear City: Arterial Arcology. Paradise Valley: Cosanti Press, 2012.

Soleri, P. What If? Quaderno 14: Lean Linear Arterial City. Paradise Valley: Cosanti Press, 2012.


June 22. 2016

Paolo Soleri was born on June 21. 1919 and yesterday would have been his 97th birthday. We remember his extraordinary life with a few glimpses.

photo: PAOLO SOLERI with students and apprentices under the Vaults, early 1970's.
Photo Credit: Orlando Cabanban Photography


photo: PAOLO SOLERI with apprentices during construction of the roof of the Antioch Building at Cosanti, 1976.
Photo Credit: Tomiaki Tamura

photo: PAOLO SOLERI with residents and workshop participants in the Ceramics Apse at Arcosanti in the late 1970’s.
Photo Credit: Ivan Pintar

photo: PAOLO SOLERI in 2009 at his 90th birthday party at Arcosanti.
Photo Credit: Ellen Ryan

Paolo Soleri on Arcosanti, from “Arcology, The City in the Image of Man”, published in 1969:

The Cosanti Foundation is working towards the betterment of man’s condition and the conservation of nature, inasmuch as they both depend on the creation of efficient and humane cities. The foundation is investigating new urban patterns and the structural systems necessary to their existence.

The construction of this new complex will apply and test elements of such patterns and structure at the small end, so to speak, of the urban scale.   

Given the physical, cultural, and ethical impasse man has now arrived at, Soleri considers this undertaking as necessary, essential, and as urgent as any program considering man.

Life is by definition experimental (indeed nothing relative to the urban dilemma is anything but experimental. We are groping, groping or dying: a thing that must enter the minds of policy makers, power-holders, planners and architects).

It is experimental but not haphazard, in fact, there is an overall discipline. The valid foundation for urban life is the open acceptance of the same tenets guiding any other form of a super-complex inter-working of purposes and functions. It is the extreme compactness of the physical system that sustains and supports them.

The avalanche of life and “goods” that is cascading on us is begging for a structure. Meaningfulness is not something that extravagantly comes into being. Nothing in the universe has such kindness in store for man, nor can we seriously desire such casual demiurgy.

If it is true that there are structural priorities that every civilization must define for itself, then to make sense out of our physical environment has a very urgent call for priority.

Arcosanti is being built by students and professionals from all over the world. The main concern of the community-school is investigation of and experimentation with arcological concepts. Its module is the individual rather than the family because a high percentage of the population is students and apprentices. Working, learning, living and playing is all “under” one roof, with a density of about 200 people per acre.

If the cosmography governing the land were square, that is, if a square sun rising vertically on the straight horizon were to describe a square orbit in the cubical sky, the scheme of the structure and its parts would be square. For our spherical cosmography the structural morphology is spherical based.

The reason for making this dependence is not farfetched because in the Cosanti Foundation many of the activities are to be developed in sheltered-but-open spaces. To succeed in this, the main problem is to tame the sun by selecting those radiation’s that are “kind” and rejecting those that are “unkind”. Its curve trajectory demands curved “traps”.

In any given system the most complex quantum is also the liveliest one. In any given system the liveliest quantum is also the most miniaturized.

A.     Life proceeds by countless performances of ever-increasing complexity.

B.    such performances take place in proportionally shrinking spaces.

Any increment in complexity will incite a corresponding contradiction or miniaturization of the performing system.

D.    The urban phenomenon is a process of increasing complexity and must take place in proportionally shrinking spaces.

E.    As the incremental complexity of urban society is irreversible, a miniaturization of its structure becomes indispensable.

F.    Urban ignorance will not resolve itself in favor of man outside the elementary and universal rules of complexity miniaturization..

G.    The Cosanti Foundation program is the only thrust into the urban dilemma that consciously undoes unreservedly abides by these rules.

The subject is the city. The aim is:

1.    to develop a historically sound concept of the morphology of the city as an ever evolving organism.

2.    an on-going test of the conception by verification process, transferring ideas into the actual construction of a micro-city.

3.    To proceed from beginning to end of the program, already under way, in the manner of an open-ended process to be lived in and experienced by some thousands of apprentices and students.

The priority is the definition of the physical structure, which is indispensable for the social organism that will inhabit it. The guiding lines are pragmatic:

1.    The city is a bio-mental organism contained in a mineral structure.

2.    The city is an organism of a thousand minds.

3.    The city is an organism in a constant process of complexification.

4.     Nature shows that for all organisms or society of organisms with any increment of complexity, there corresponds a spatio-durational contradiction of its functions.

Complexity is a function of miniaturization. This is a rule that makes up the stuff of reality itself and cannot be amended by politics, economy, religion, science or philosophy. In fact, all of these are of it as long as they deal with mass, energy and life, not with “naught”. Naught is necessarily a suburban melancholy.

5.     The enormous complexification working itself into the social organism makes mandatory a correspondingly enormous contraction of its urban container.

6.    It is then evident and inevitable that this scatterization, tearing apart our towns and cities, is a degenerative process, not a growth process. It is necessary to have instead a miniaturizing contraction.

7.    The miniaturization rule, a direct injunction of the logistics of matter-energy, must be respected universally. It must be observed by any system offering a physical modicum that will afford a sound and swift logistic for society and thus set the premises for the physical freedom and exuberance needed.

Structure comes before performance.


April 08. 2016

Tomorrow, April 9. will be the third anniversary of the death of our fearless leader Paolo Soleri.

Words fail to express the enormous influence Paolo had, and continues to have on the people whose lives were touched by his presence.


Here are some of the major Awards and Honors given to Paolo during his lifetime.


1958 - Honorable mention, Solar House Competition, Association for Applied Solar Energy, Phoenix, AZ.


1960 - Participated in Visionary Architecture Exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.


1963 - AIA Craftsmanship Gold Medal for Excellence in Design (American Institute of Architects). [photo]




1970 - Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA.


1973 - Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.


1974 - Arcosanti named Bicentennial Site by State of Arizona.


1975 - Cosanti designated an Arizona State Historic Site.
- Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.


1977 - Honorary Professorship at Universidad Nacional Federico Villareal, in conjunction with participation in the Great Masters of Architecture Reunion (Reunion de Grandes Maestros de la Arquitectura) in Lima, Peru.


1979 - Architectural Design Citation by Progressive Architecture for East Crescent Complex at Arcosanti.
Winner.
- National Interfaith Conference Art Awards, 2nd Place awarded to “Sculptured Crucifix,” presented by IFRAA: Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art & Architecture, Phoenix, AZ.
- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami, FL.


1980 - Invited to Interdesign Conference ’80 in Yokohama, Japan.


1981 - Gold Medal of Architecture at the World Biennale of Architecture, Sofia, Bulgaria.
- Key to the City, Mayor of Yokohama, Japan.
- Award of Commendation for an Outstanding Contribution to Education - ASU.


1982 - Elected member of International Academy of Philosophy of Art, Switzerland.


1984 - Silver Medal for Research and Techniques, Academy of Architecture of Paris, France.


1989 - Utopus Award, Third International Conference of Utopian Studies, Universitá degli Studi de Genova, Reggio Calabria, Italy.


1992 - President’s Award for Special Achievement in Environmental Excellence by Valley Forward, Phoenix, AZ.
- Appointed to planning group for Expo2000, Hanover, Germany.


1993 - Historic Planning Pioneer Award from the Arizona Planning Association State Planning Awards Committee.
- Paolo Soleri Day Proclamation, City Council of Scottsdale.
- Certificate of Appreciation, School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico.


1994 - Recognition plaque from Mie Center for the Arts, Tokyo, Japan.
- Honorary Citizen, Comune di Vietri sul Mare by Cittadino Onorario, Comune di Vietri sul Mare.


1995 - Distinguished Achievement Award and Recognized as Architect of Vision, College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.


1996 - Honorary Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects.
- Governor’s Arts Award, Arizona Annual Governor’s Arts Awards.
- Guest of Honor, International Architectural Forum, Prague, Czech Republic.
- 'Excellence in Concrete' Award for the Glendale Community College Amphitheater, presented by the Arizona Chapter of the American Concrete Institute.
- Recognized as a Visionary at the Eight Annual Digital Be-In, Transmission Theater, San Francisco, CA.


1998–2000 - Planning Committee for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2000 in the Niigata Prefecture, Japan, at which Paolo Soleri was a featured speaker at the Global Environmental Seminar.


1999 - Environmental Sensitivity Award by the Construction Specifications Institute, Phoenix, AZ.


2000 - Golden Lion Award, Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy.
- City AZ Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Expo 2000 Project Medallion – Hannover, Germany.
- Recognition of Importance in the World of Professions and Enterprise - Associazione Ignenieri e Architetti ex Allievi del Politecnico di Torino.


2001 - Euro Solar Italia Award for Solar Architecture.
- Honorary Degree, Universita di Palermo - Architecture Department, Palermo, Italy.
- Giunta Regionale - Regione Lombardia [Silver metal sculpture with gold metal inlay].


2003 - Commendatore della Repubblica Italiana for excellence in the field of arts and sciences, awarded by Consul General of Italy Massimo Roscigno at State of Arizona Capitol, presented by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Phoenix, AZ.
- Visionary Award of Excellence glass vase, presented by the Internatonal Furnishings and Design Association.
- Trailblazer Award Winner, International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) at the 2003 National Conference in Scottsdale, AZ.
- Certificate of Appreciation, Mayor of Paradise Valley.


2004 - Medici Award for lifetime of excellence in the arts, from Art Renaissance Initiative, Phoenix, AZ.
- Montecito Avenue in Scottsdale, AZ, renamed “Via Soleri” in honor of Paolo Soleri’s 85th birthday.
- National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) 'Man of the Year Award' for unique vision for a better future and for outstanding community contributions in Arizona.


2006 - National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement from Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, NY.
- Cascieri 14: Lectureship in the Humanities Medal from Boston Architectural Center, Boston, MA.
- Professorship and Academician in the International Academy of Architecture, Sofia, Bulgaria.
- Special Recognition from the Office of the Governor of Arizona, congratulations presented to Paolo Soleri for receiving the 2006 Cooper-Hewit National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement, Janet Napolitano, Governor of the State of Arizona.


2007 - Recognition for Lifelong Committment to Research and Experimentation in Urban Planning, Martin Chavez, Mayor.
- Paolo Soleri Day: September 7, 2007, proclamation by City of Albuquerque and State of New Mexico.
- Savor! Paolo Soleri Event Inspiration, benefiting the Greater Phoenix Multi-Cultural and Arts Foundation.


2008 - Lifetime Achievement Award, Arizona Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, Arizona Technology Council.


2009 - Honorary Citizenship, awarded by the city of his birth, Turin, Italy.
- Lifetime Achievement Award presented at “Architetti e Architetture 2009,” Turin, Italy.
- Stylos Awards, Best Green Project, to Arcosanti, from the El Break organization, Phoenix, AZ.
- Proclamation by Paradise Valley City Council, Mayor of Paradise Valley bestows his best birthday wishes to Paolo Soleri.


2010 - Paolo Soleri Day Proclamation, City Council of Scottsdale, by the Mayor of Scottsdale, Jim Lane.
 

2011 - Soleri Bridge named as winner of the 31st Annual Environmental Excellence Awards in the category of 'Site Development and Landscape: Trails', given by the Valley Forward Association, Phoenix, AZ.
- Soleri Bridge and Plaza named as winner of the 31st Annual Environmental Excellence Awards in the category of 'Art in Public Places', given by the Valley Forward Association, Phoenix, AZ.


2012 - Solimene Ceramics Factory (Ceramica Artistica Solimene) selected for the Italian Pavilion at the XIII Biennale of Venice.



April 09. 2014

Paolo Soleri died a year ago today.

[photo by Ivan Pintar; Soleri in 1970, in front of the 3D Jersey Arcology model at the Soleri exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC]

Here is a bit of his writing, from an excerpt from "Documenta A", by Donald Wall, published in 1969.

"In 1968 Paolo Soleri writes “Ten Elements for Discussion,” which in many ways outlines the salient points of his developing arcology: complexity-miniaturization thesis.  Because the “Ten Elements for Discussion” is a key document more than others, it is reproduced here in full.

1.    Miniaturization.  In a universe ruled by the laws of mass-energy and burdened by the entropic slack, any step toward complexity, complexity now centered in the power of the mind, demands a corresponding effort toward miniaturization.  In a structure where the behaviour of matter would be as free from slavery of acceleration-deceleration as light is, miniaturization would possibly be unessential and the aloneness of things could not be so pervasive.  The lack of understanding, for instance, is still a deficiency of instantaneous coordination of numberless elements constructing the forthcoming act.  Miniaturization is not an end in itself but it is the inescapable by-pass toward greater complexity, that is to say, human and social fullness.  Within the perspective of evolution, the most pressing task of the earth’s human layer is the miniaturization of the physical container it works within.  Our urban systems are proto-miniaturized organisms.  They are not fit for life.

2.    The Map of Despair.  Population growth and affluence have suggested to planners the lay out of urban and suburban systems so extensive as to cover a high percentage of the usable land of the earth.  This is the map of despair and reminds one of the multiplying of pathogenic cells at the expense of neighboring healthy tissues.  This unbalanced growth ratio on a relatively shrinking planet will kill the biosphere of the earth and man who is a part of it.  Nor is the killing necessary.  Even the less final step of squalor and dreariness will do mankind in.

[photo by Jill Acorn Brinduse, Soleri on July 22.1990, speaking at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY]

3.    Equity and Congruence.  The well-being of man and society depends on two factors: equity and congruence.  Equity is a social necessity and it has been invented by man to balance his propensity for inequity.  Without equity the irrational, the illogical, the unjust (also inventions of man) would be rampant.  (They are.)  Congruence is proto-human, human, and ultra-human.  It is the necessary coordination of the many factors performing reality, the reality that developed from an unmanned universe and that might be moving toward an ultra-human reality.  Without congruence the structure of things falls apart, regardless of the niceties of this or that detail.  Ethics, justice, power, etc. are pre-empted propositions in the vacuum of incongruence.  Congruence is not ecological, that is to say, it is total or it is not.  Where it is not, it does not let anything else be.

4.    Utopia.  The bulk of life is negated when megalopoly and suburbia are taken as the environmental bulk.  The possible condition of equity achievable in them is not validated into the ecological condition of congruence.  In the present metropolitan fabric, the absence of the implosion of miniaturization renders the social organism ill-fitted for survival, let alone for development.  The environment of contemporary man is a statistical utopia taken in by the game of laissez-faire.  As such, it tends to make man abstract.

[photo of Paolo and Colly Soleri, courtesy of the Soleri family]

5.    The Bulb of Reality.  The real organizes itself like layers in an onion bulb.  Each of these is an end in itself and a means to something of greater complexity and scope.  Whatever the layer, any motion towards a new synthesis (or layer) is predicated on the backing of the preceding layer: if the vegetal layer were not there to feed it, the world of the flesh would be inconceivable.  Thus, the species of man is not possible without the preceding animal layer.  Each new layer is contained and sustained by the preceding.  It is not an accidental excrescence of it.  To sustain the next step in the development of sentient and reflective life (the noosphere of Teilhard de Chardin), man shall have to put order to his own layer: to structuralize his environment.  The second step will be the ultra-structure he will create out of such environment and himself.  To put structure in his environment he must define a neo-nature, a physico-mineral sub-layer apt, as nature is not, to render him specific and solely human services.  This neo-nature necessarily rooted into the geological and puncturing through the biological (biosphere), must be congruous with the general swill of evolution so as to be one of its makers.  It must then be, by necessity, of a miniaturizing character.  Abstract utopia with its map of despair is the only other alternative.

6.    Structure and Performance.  The geological is massive.  The vegetative is extensive.  The reflective is intensive.  There is no performance, real performance, outside the discipline defined by such structures.  Forgetting those rules is to be disassociated with the world of man from the whole of things.  To be so disassociated is to be discarded.  That much we have learned about the vectorial sway of the world.  The double opacity (sprawl and pollution) that we, the mental, are interposing between the vegetative enveloping the geological and the source of its life, the sun, as if the extensive belonged to the intensive, is stifling the biosphere, that layer that makes the mental possible.  By intruding massively into the performance of the vegetative, we are endangering the future through the miniaturization of neo-nature, remaining thus on the pauper side of reflection.  If we do not face those constraints, we are simply dismissing any trace of compassion toward ourselves, and the blunder of our species will go unnoticed notwithstanding its oceanic bleeding throughout its short history.

7.    Life is in the thick of things.  The thick of things well expresses the centeredness of life.  One of the barriers the vegetative was unable to break through has been the veneer-nature of its mechanism.  As light is essential to the photosynthetic process, the vegetal world has to direct its skills to those kinds of patterns that will expose the maximum skin and needs the minimum volume.  Even in the forest the aboveground structure is the clever dimensioning and orientation of sensitive veneers to maximum light available.  In the animal life, the ratio of skin to volume is reversed: minimal skin to maximum volume.  The energetic process is interiorized thanks to the high concentration of energy packages (miniaturization) feeding it.  The animal has in the brain its most miniaturized center of power.  It is from such an ultra-packaged universe that the mind can operate and reach to the outer limits of the possible.  It is as if step by step evolution would take account of itself and make a complete synopsis (miniaturization) of its achievements in order to have at its finger tips all of the available power for the next leap, demonstrating that the container of universality or wholeness must be the miniaturization of the best instruments available.  In the social context it is inevitable that the collective making of the species has to be constructed in a “cranial box” that is the miniaturized synthesis of the human ecology.  Compression produces reach (for instance the internal combustion engine).  The utter compression of the brain (miniaturization) engenders the limitless reach of the mind.  Similarly, the miniaturization of the urban system will cause the explosion of its creativity.

8.    The Organism of One Thousand Brains.  The mind of the city is composed of thousands of peripatetic particles all operating from individual brains.  In addition to this multiplicity of wills posturing themselves in collective veneers oriented toward the light (the vegetal kingdom), there will be a centralized brain of non-biological character  (unless technology allies itself to biology and medicine and brings the computer “science” back to the ancestral father, the organic).  The phenomenon then of the city, a congruent humanized micro-universe sustained by the neo-natural layer (the physical structure of the city) is an ultra-complex organism whose centralized brain is the instrument that works at the satisfaction of the thousands of epidermal individual minds bound together by the forces of sociality and culture.

9.    Yesterday’s City and Today’s Reality.  The evolution of the one-layer city has been brought to an end by the rubber wheel.  It all might be for the best.  Ultimate absurdity at times opens the door on greater coherence.  The city of today is of the past as of the past is an instrument that has killed it.  The car will be put out to pasture where it rightly belongs.  The city, shown is anachronisms, will seek its congruence within the ecological system of nature.  Such congruence is the implosive miniaturization of the utopia of ecumenopoly accepting the neo-natural topography that reaches up to hundreds of layers into the thick of things.

10.    Arcology the City in the Image of Man.  The ecological character of true architecture is to be affirmed if the utopia of ecumenopoly is to be stopped.  The wholeness of neo-nature is dependent on the wholeness of nature.  They both must move within the sphere of congruence according to the structure they belong to; extensity for nature, density for neo-nature.  Arcology is intensively ecological and because of its self-containment is able to be integrally accepted by the natural ecology.  It is a belonging of performance, not a belonging of parasitism."


We received these wonderful photos from architect Jim Horecka, who has visited Arcosanti many times over the years. Thank you so much, Jim!

[Photo credit for all of the photos in this report: 2013 James Horecka, AIA, Architect]

On the last day of the Paolo Soleri Memorial Cosanti  and Arcosanti alumni, and friends supportive of Paolo Soleri's efforts, gathered at the Paolo Soleri Scottsdale Bridge and Plaza.

[photo: Paul from Flam Chen waiting with a large lense for the exact Solar Noon].

Text of Jeff Steins speech at the Soleri Bridge on Sunday, September 22. 2013.

"Thank you Donna Isaac, Mayor Jim Lane, and welcome.

Thank you all for being here on a beautiful Sunday in Scottsdale, Arizona, home for 66 years to the architect, philosopher, writer, lecturer, EXPLORER – and our neighbor -  the late Paolo Soleri. We are gathered today at his Soleri Bridge and plaza to celebrate Paolo. We are here at this public place, designed by an individual, funded by a government – the city of Scottsdale – for the enjoyment of its citizens. We are those citizens.

This bridge represents decades of thought and the ideals of its architect Paolo Soleri; his wish to connect us in this desert city to the sun and seasons, to earth and it’s ecology, his wish to use architecture to help connect us all to each other. That wish to define new relations and ways to celebrate them continues in this place today.

The GREAT WORK of our generation: the transformative and radical effort to change human-Earth relations from disruptive and destructive to naturally enhancing and beneficial was first modeled for us by Paolo Soleri. His legacy of writing, of building, of BRIDGE-building, really, is what we celebrate today.

[photos are of the FLAM CHEN performance during the event].

A bridge is a way to cross over, a way to make a transition to the other side of something.  A bridge marks the end of one thing, the beginning of another. At this bridging moment in the history of our culture, we hope our presence here today will serve as a bridge for us to continue the work Paolo Soleri began to make a transition to a better, a more coherent way to be, on the land, in the world.

The writer E.B.White  said, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

Paolo Soleri had this same issue. But his life’s work, at Cosanti, at the enduring urban laboratory Arcosanti, including the Soleri Bridge and the new bas relief murals at the Arcosanti Interchange on I-17, all allow us new places and new ways to do both those things at once. Paolo Soleri created ways to connect and enjoy living, human connections, he modeled ways to bring together mind and heart and hand to develop a new consciousness of how the earth works, a new framework for the practice of architecture and urban design.

Paolo Soleri’s work of cultivating awareness and attention entails a commitment to tend to and take responsibility for our communities. A clearer awareness of who we are in relation to the larger whole of earth’s ecology, rooted in respect and reverence for the whole, requires of us both a response and a responsibility.

Paolo Soleri, who we honor here today, who lived and created in our midst for nearly 94 years, made a real effort to leave the world a little better than he found it. And we gathered here today intend to continue to create a reasonable alternative equal to the needs of our age. This is our time, our responsibility, and I congratulate you here today for recognizing this with your presence. I urge you to go forth from this place today with a renewed spirit, a new sense of what is possible based on the life and work of Paolo Soleri.  Thank you in advance for doing it."



October 02. 2013

This completes our report about the Paolo Soleri Memorial at Cosanti and Arcosanti in September 2013.

Late afternoon on September 21. 2013 - here we see a Wine and Cheese Reception in the Vaults.

[photos by Anna Tran and text by Sue Kirsch and the Sonya Kumiko Lee event announcement, close-ups are still frames from video].

The evening was graced with a passionate performance by world renowned pianist  and Arcosanti alumna Sonya Kumiko Lee.

A graduate of The Juilliard School, Sonya Kumiko Lee has garnered a reputation amongst audiences as a pianist who plays in “the grand Romantic tradition, with flawless technique, a marvelous variety of colors, and exquisite phrasing.”

Ms. Lee has performed as a soloist at world-renowned concert halls throughout the U.S. and abroad including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Create Center Hall and Aoyama Hall in Osaka, Japan, the Salle de Colonnes in Fontainebleau, France and many more.

An enthusiastic chamber musician, Ms. Lee has collaborated with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Tuscon Symphony Orchestra, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and illustrious colleagues from The Juilliard School, Curtis, and Yale in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad including New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puigcerdá, Spain.

Recently, Ms. Lee has enjoyed collaborations with esteemed artists in other musical genres including a performance with Tony Award-winning actor, Roger Bart, in Orange County, CA, and several performances with Rivers Cuomo, the brilliant lead singer of the alternative rock band Weezer. Ms. Lee’s performances with Mr. Cuomo have aired on Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, I Heart Radio for Clear Channel, and on Weezer’s latest album, “Hurley”.

Ms. Lee is thrilled make her 12th appearance at the Colly Soleri Music Center this year and dedicated this performance to the memory of Colly and Paolo Soleri. Born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Orange County, California, Ms. Lee holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from The Juilliard School where she was the student of pianists Emanuel Ax and Oxana Yablonskaya.


The Paolo Soleri Memorial continued with an event at the SOLERI BRIDGE AND PLAZA in Scottsdale, AZ, on Sunday, September 22. 2013. We are waiting for photos and will report on this event soon.


September 30. 2013

The Paolo Soleri Memorial on September 21. 2013 continued with Frugal Soup in the Vaults.

A lot of profound thoughts were shared.

[photos by Anna Tran and text by Sue Kirsch]

The walk to the grave-site.

On the left is Reverend Al Cohen, alumnus from the early 1980's.

More about the Paolo Soleri Memorial on 10/2/2013.


September 27. 2013

This continues the report of the memorial for Paolo Soleri that took place last week-end.

Events on Saturday, September 21. 2013 took place at Arcosanti. Weeks of preparation for this event all over the site finally came to fruition.

From very early morning until late evening Melanie Husband and Kate Bemesderfer signed people in and gave out schedules and information.

[photo and text by Sue Kirsch]

Several of the alum organized a morning gathering in the Vaults to discuss possible ways to continue to help the Cosanti Foundation.

[photos by Anna Tran and text by Sue Kirsch]

People gathered into different teams and talked within specific topics.

The individual groups got back together in the Vaults and each team leader reported on the individual teams efforts.

Here are some of the individual team work sheets.

More to come on Monday, September 30. 2013.


September 25. 2013

We are going through an enormous amount of photos and video footage and will continue the report about the memorial on Friday, 9/27/2013.

Here is the group photo from Saturday afternoon, taken by James Horecka, AIA Architect. Thank you so much, James!


September 23. 2013

The first events of the 'Paolo Soleri Memorial' week-end took place at Cosanti. On Friday afternoon a meeting of alumni took in the courtyard between the Cat-cast, Student Apse and the Pool. A was great afternoon of people sharing stories of their time with Paolo and of their hopes for the future of the Cosanti Foundation.

[photos by 2009 Soleri archive intern Anna Tran, text by Sue Kirsch]

Reverent Al Cohen came for a workshop at Arcosanti in 1979 and supported and stayed connected with Paolo Soleri and the Cosanti Foundation all of these years. In the middle we see Deborah Giannini, who worked with Paolo and the Cosanti Foundation in the mid 1980's and continues to support the Foundations efforts. And in the foreground Nancy Way, who did a workshop in the early 1970's and has been a staunch supporter all of these years.

These are just a few of close to 400 faces that came to visit this week-end and for this reporter it was wonderful to see so many people that were part of this effort for so many years.

[this photo by Sue Kirsch]

Here is a set of panels with a time-line that Tomiaki Tamura put together of Paolo Soleri's life. In front of it we see Takako, who came all the way from Tokyo for this event, and was a great help in the archives all during the event, thank you!!

In the late afternoon there was Open House of the Cosanti site with a lively wine and cheese event, accompanied by lovely background music of a harp player, lead to an terrific panel discussion. Costa Mesa architect Doug Lee lead the discussion. He worked with Paolo Soleri for many years from the early 1960s on and had some great stories. Prominent Phoenix Architect Will Bruder, who designed the famous Phoenix Library, also spent some time at Cosanti and followed with stories of his time there and about what he learned from Paolo. Vern Swabeck spoke as a long-time admirer of Paolo and the Dean of Architecture at the ASU Architecture School, John Meunier, spoke of his admiration for Paolos work.

The evening concluded with a night pour.

This report continues on Wednesday, September 25. 2013.