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.


  1. Thanks for reminding me of this, I'd love to see it in person some day. Did it seem kind of empty when you visited? Do people live there?

  2. Arcosanti is billed as an urban laboratory, and functions more regularly as a revamped Hippie commune; a rotating roster of volunteers live, grow and build the project.

    There is activity, but compared to the throngs of visitors at Taliesin West, Arcosanti is a bit more quiet.

  3. We love Paolo Soleri's work!! Thanks for posting about it!

    We also wrote a post about Arcosanti and hope someday we can go there, look in our blog for:

    Arcosanti and Macro-Cosanti | Paolo Soleri

  4. Thank you for mentioning that post: Arcosanti and Macro-Cosanti | Paolo Soleri at dpr-barcelona! I just found it, and the images are amazing. Looking forward to reading it soon.

  5. Wonderful post, dpr-barcelona; I may expand on my brief post at some later point. Soleri and his works deserve more exposure.


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