This event is part of Archtober‘s virtual Travel To series. Travel To seeks to highlight iconic architecture and historically significant sites across the United States. Join us as curators, preservationists, historians (and more!) bring these places and spaces to life in the comfort of your home.

Join us as we visit Arcosanti in Arizona. 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.

Organized by
Center for Architecture and Archtober