Arcosanti is one of my favorite spots in Arizona – besides the beautiful home Dawn and I have made together in central Phoenix – and I visit about once a year, or more.
I hadn’t heard of it before I moved to Phoenix, but I was immediately taken with the futuristic vision that Paolo Soleri expressed in his arcology.
Why he chose that particular location, I don’t know. It’s 50 minutes drive from the house to the exit off the I-17. You can see the buildings from the highway, if you know where to look – about half a mile due east. That area is a high mesa – 3700 feet – surrounded by low/distant mountains in almost every direction.
Right now, at 9:10 pm local time, it’s 94 degrees. It’s 79 up at Arcosanti.
If you’re interested, check out the Wikipedia article, and the Arcosanti website itself. Search YouTube for ‘arcology’, too.
My affection for the place is bittersweet. As a kid I was so taken with anything to do with ‘the future’, and Soleri’s vision, his drawings, Arcosanti’s structures, are so familiar to me. But for both – his vision, and my fascination – they’ve faded.
He imagined 5,000 people living there, as one of many linear cities, growing longitudinally, with lots of undeveloped nature surrounding each one – more nature than concrete. Something like one hundred people, give or take fifty, live there at any time these days. The structures themselves look aged – aged concrete, fittings, glass. And it’s very quiet there, every time I’ve been.
My fascination with the future has aged, too. I’ve experienced just how slow change happens. I’ve seen 2019 – SO far into the future when it was envisioned in Blade Runner when I saw it in 1982 – come and go, and LA looks NOTHING like it did in the movie.
But spending time at Arcosanti, listening to wind and bells, sitting in the shade, watching the sunlight through round windows and onto curved walls, I wonder if this isn’t better anyway.