Saturday, July 2, 2011

Road Trip, Detour One: Arcosanti

So we were headed to a 1970's architectural community in the middle of the Arizona high desert. Jeanne, my travelling companion, had heard from her friend Chloe that it was a pretty intense place.

It was on the way to Marfa, Texas so we figured, "Why not?"

(website HERE)
Intense was an understatement. Our first thought when we pulled up to it was that it was a leftover prop town from "Planet of the Apes."

(Photo by Jeanne)

The brainchild of Italian architect Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti was started in the 1970's, ran out of funding a few years later and is now an educational urban laboratory manned by a community of devoted volunteers.
(Photo by Jeanne)

About 70 people live here full-time -- guiding tours, running the vegan café and working in the bronze foundry hammering out the famous Soleri windchimes.

We had arrived too late for the 4pm tour so we struck out on our own. With the uncanny radar of nine-year-olds, the boys homed in on a stray ball and went to town.
(Photo by Jeanne)

Free to wander, we started snapping photos. Have I mentioned that everywhere we turned, there were circles?
(Photo by Jeanne)


(Photo by Jeanne)


(Photo by Jeanne)

Okay, it was all a little eerie.

When we stumbled upon the winged amphitheater, my imagination took flight. I couldn't help thinking of the chairs as white-garbed acolytes sitting in rapt attention.

(Photo by Jeanne)

We drove about half a mile down the hill to our rooms. (Volunteers live in dormitories up at the main compound.)

Evidently, the guest quarters have yet to be completed.

The rooms were...well, let's just say they were all about the view.

And the view was incredible.

But the boys were tired. And overheated.
(Photo by Jeanne)

And it was 105 degrees. And there was no air-conditioning.

So we used our first Road Trip Chip -- the one that says, "Never be afraid to make a spur-of-the-moment decision."

And with the unshakeable dream of an icy hotel room in our heads, we got back on the road, turned up the music, drove another 80 miles and found an icy refuge in Tempe, Arizona.

(Jeanne and I thinking of air-conditioning)

* * * * *

Editor's Note:
Apparently, the room to stay in at Arcosanti is the Sky Suite (a futuristic bachelor pad, up at the main compound and with A/C) but it was booked already.

* * * * *

Up next:

An Other-Worldly Mind Meld at White Sands, New Mexico:

"My eyes are telling me that this should be why is my plastic sled melting?"


helen tilston said...

Hi Lisa
Thank you for a wonderful account of Arcosanti. We had the pleasure of meeting Paolo Soleri four years ago when he was a guest speaker at Leepa Rattner Museum in Tarpon Springs. I have some of those musical windchimes and they are melodic. Arizona is a fascinating state and such unusual scenery. I am anxious to read your next adventure.
Truly beautiful post for which I thank you
Helen Tilston

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I was going along just fine... right there with you, enjoying all the white chairs and circles... until.... we got to that room. And when I read.."no air-conditioning".... well, let's just say, you are the girl I thought I knew! Always, always opt for air!! Especially in 105 heat! But yes, it all sounds like fun!!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

helen tilston:
Can't believe you met the one and only Paolo himself! Fascinating....

Pamela Terry and Edward:
We pale lilies have to stick together. :) xx

Teri said...

This place looks incredible and maybe one of those places to visit in the Fall, when you don't need air conditioning. I am going to keep it on my list of places to visit. Thanks for the tour. I love the circles! And that outdoor space with the chairs AND those wing-like overhead structures...nothing like it.

Karena said...

What an adventure Lisa. I love to discover something or someplace totally unexpected!!

I must have air, or my energy level wilts to about 2hrs of action a day!

Art by Karena

Jenny Woolf said...

I was waiting to hear about this and it was very interesting. No A/C though - makes me wonder what the purpose of this place was, obvously not intended for people! looking forward to hearing about your next adventure.

Dom said...

Oh my gosh, this place is amazing! How could I have missed that one when I was in AZ? Love the architecture. Thanks for sharing these great pics!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Teri: Yes, probably going there during a heat wave wasn't the brightest of ideas! :)

Karena: I hear you, lady. xxx

Jenny Woolf: Actually, there IS AC in the main compound, just not down at the guest quarters (go figure). I think they have a serious lack of funds, hence the windchime industry.

Dominic Doherty: Just left you a comment on your blog. You are CRAAAAAAZY talented! So glad you commented so that I could discover you!

Jane the Booklady said...

What an amazing place, just so different from the gentle leafy greens of where I live. I would so love to visit. Not sure about the heat tho'.... Jane

Lucindaville said...

I have my Soleri chimes hanging by the door. Glad to see where they were made.

Kelly said...

I just got back in touch last week with a friend who worked and lived there, first in the early '90s and then again recently. Thanks for the photos, as I had no idea what it actually looked like. I've always just thought of it as a commune!

Laura said...

Oh this brings back memories of family car trips as a kid! My parents dragged us down to the southwest countless times, always in August because it was "cheap" (but also "hot"), and always to somewhere odd and out of the way (the Very Big Array anyone?). I can't believe they deprived us of this crazy spot though, looks so fun!

Lisa said...

This property is included in the wonderful book Artists' Handmade Houses.

Your post is a great companion piece to the book - a little less formal.

Both made me want some Soleri chimes!

Lisa H.

Jenny Woolf said...

Ummm... White Sands came up on my feed but it's not here. Maybe you're rewriting.I'm really enjoying your road trip and look forward to hearing about White Sands.

katiedid said...

What a wonderful adventure! I am thinking of that movie White Sands with Willem Dafoe.....looks hot, hot hot!

Dumbwit Tellher said...

The boys must of thought they were on a movie set. A bit spooky indeed but the true terrifying part was the no A/C. I would of keep on driving as well. Can't wait for Detour II.

Great fun!

x Deb


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