Dream City

I want to pay respectful tribute to an icon I've admired my whole life: Paolo Soleri, the visionary architect behind my very favorite dream city that really exists.

The 93-year-old architect recently passed away and he is in my thoughts.

Signor Soleri wanted to better our urban environments with an eye to nature long before such an idea came into vogue. His main canvas? A truly mythic domed city he envisioned in the desert of Northern Arizona.

Name? Arcosanti. The place has haunted me, in a good way, my entire life.

Arcosanti doesn't look like anything else. Domes and spirals and strange, undulating shapes are key. The city, begun in 1970, is not yet finished but is alive. If you go, and please do if you ever road trip through the Southwest, you might feel as if you've walked onto a "Star Trek" set as designed by Dr. Seuss.

Said with total respect, of course. Unusual structures, dream cities, and big thinkers walking their own whimsical-but-beneficial-to-many paths fill me with happy hope.

Though, truly, a Soleri building looks like a Soleri building. Nothing can compare.

Where does Wilfair fit in? I have a hotelier father and an adventure-embracing mother who enjoy offbeat buildings. We visited Arcosanti on a number of family trips. And I've thought about how whimsy and architecture are perfectly cozy bedfellows ever since.

Aren't they, though? Do you have a favorite dream city, real or fictional? Or dream building?

photo: opal and the idiot

photos: Jan Pauw


Ginny said...

My friends and I once did one of our famous "random road trips" to Arcosanti. However, we must have gone on an off day because it was deserted. There was no one anywhere around and it was a bit creepy so we didn't stay long.

I don't really have a favorite dream city but being a Disney fan I've always been interested in Walt's original vision for Epcot. Would have loved to see that.

Wilfair Book said...

Ginny! There is a bit of an empty feeling to the place, or was the last time I went. It was very silent, too, in that sort of eternal desert way. Yep.

I, too, am Epcot-obsessed, in all ways. I'm hoping to get to Florida maybe this year or next.

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