On a desolate mesa in the high desert of Arizona, midway between the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix and the artist enclave of Sedona, Arcosanti stands apart visually and philosophically. It is a vision of what future cities—and the thriving communities supported by them—could look like. Radical in its own time, through the environmental lens of today, Arcosanti is a welcome antidote to the plague of urban sprawl that stresses the planet and fractures a sense of community by putting too much distance between people.
Vertical and dense, pedestrian and integrated, the iconic architecture of Arcosanti was built by 8,000+ volunteers over 50 years, inspired by the arcology theory of architect Paolo Soleri. The term “arcology”—a blending of architecture and ecology—was Soleri’s innovative approach to urban planning, which brings people closer to each other and closer to nature through thoughtfully designed architecture. The architecture at Arcosanti exemplifies this theory both by being situated amidst a barren, largely unspoiled, natural landscape and through its structures, which are designed to be minimalist and multi-use.
Continuously inhabited since 1970 by those who have built its structures and societal infrastructure, today Arcosanti attracts urban planners, architects, and scholars who are inspired by its origin story and marvel that through determination, learning-by-doing, and a willingness to dare for something different, thousands of amateur architects could create an alternative way of life that is materially frugal but experientially enriched. In the 1970’s, famed New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable described Arcosanti as an “urban laboratory,” and indeed it is that—a proof of concept, an experiment, a lab.
The Cosanti Foundations mission is to explore the experiential and educational benefits of integrating Architecture and Ecology
The Cosanti Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, was established in 1965 and is actively engaged in exploring the experiential and educational benefits of integrating architecture and ecology. The Foundation is a complex organization with multiple internal enterprises and programs, each of which relies on the support of our broader community of learners and patrons. Our goals are to inspire, research, and develop educational opportunities which address topics such as sustainability, reducing our environmental impact, and how we can help to inform the future of our planet.
Since the beginning, the educational focus of the Foundation has been at the center of its efforts to introduce new ideas and innovative approaches to the urban experience. In 2019 the Foundation’s educational focus was expanded with internal resources reallocated from infrastructure to education. This included the recruitment of Norm Pratt as the new Director of Education. Norm was charged with pivoting the educational program toward this external and diversified audience. The Foundation is offering newly designed experiential education programs, a speaker series, planning institutes for K-12 educators and higher education audiences, and looking for new partners to introduce its educational efforts in locations beyond our own. As Arcosanti reaches its 50th anniversary, the Foundation is broadening its approach to the educational mission.
List of Executive Board Members
John Walsh, Chairman, Retired Retail CEO Paradise Valley, Arizona
Matteo DiMichele, Bank of America/Vice President, Global Corporate Services Charlotte, North Carolina
Ivan Fritz, Music Together Worldwide/Technology Manager Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Kathryn Joyce, ASU Thunderbird School/Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations Phoenix, Arizona
Jai Singh Khalsa, Khalsa Design/President Boston, Massachusetts
Sarah Marino, Ceramicist Phoenix, Arizona
Stephen Ostwinkle, Hunter Contracting/Structures Operations Manager Chandler, Arizona
Kim Ruggiero, Verizon Business Group/Managing Partner Phoenix, Arizona
Dan Shilling, Retired Nonprofit CEO Phoenix, Arizona
Jeff Stein, Architect/Retired Dean, Boston Architecture College Boston, Massachusetts
Patrick McWhortor, President & CEO, Ex Officio