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Paolo Soleri: Idealism Deferred

by Ali Madad

The lure of the radical architect and thinker, Paolo Soleri, culminated in my visit to his Arizona laboratory in mid-2005. Arcosanti is an embodiment of Aristotle's notions of: theoria, poiesis and praxis. However at 3% completion, it remains a dream deferred.

I came to know the work of Soleri through his association with Frank Lloyd Wright and moreso through his writings and drawings. The 1971 David Hall designed, Visionary Cities by Paolo Soleri, was a tantalizing presentation of the form/content — an expression, a glimpse into an alternate model of being.

With the amount of information written about or by Soleri, I won't attempt to restate his ideas. For me the lasting resonance is his realizing of 'paper architecture,' the pragmatic strain of idealism and the embodiment of belief and value in form and idea.

Credits: Photos of Arcosanti by Ali Madad.