While working in a library when I was in high school, I came across an oversized book that had been stored above a bookcase for years gathering dust. Upon opening it and realizing what it was all about, I had one of those feelings I sometimes get when talking to a crazy person who is nevertheless on to something. Paolo Soleri is on to something.
In 1976, Newsweek declared: “As urban architecture, Arcosanti is probably the most important experiment undertaken in our lifetime.” “Undertaken” being the key word — then and now. Completion has legendarily eluded Arcosanti. Built in stages and chronically underfinanced, the place exists in a permanent state of half-doneness.
What was once the future of intelligently designed communities has morphed into something less optimistic: a stalled revolution in urban planning or a moldering relic of impractical idealism, depending on whom you ask. Often enough it's referred to as Mr. Soleri's “desert utopia,” and as with all utopias, reality doesn't always match the blueprints...
...But aging visions of the future have a singular appeal, and at Arcosanti, it's possible to enjoy the hopefulness without betraying it. It is not cynicism to find a special beauty in what hasn't yet come to pass.
(creative commons photo attributed to Flickr user CodyR)