Originally Published: April 9, 2013 3:25 p.m.
Paolo Soleri, world-renowned architect, builder, artist, writer and visionary, died Tuesday at age 93.
Soleri, born June 21, 1919, on the summer solstice, leaves behind two daughters, Kristine Soleri Timm and Daniela Soleri, both of California, and two grandchildren. His wife, Colly, preceded him in death in 1982.
Soleri founded the not-for-profit Cosanti Foundation in 1965 with his late wife to research and experiment with mixing ecologically sound principles with city dwelling - a type of architecture he called Arcology. He started his urban project, Arcosanti, 65 miles north of Phoenix near Cordes Junction, in 1970.
It continues to evolve with the help of students who participate in workshops encompassing design, construction and upkeep of the place. Currently, an extensive "greenhouse apron" is under construction on the property. More than 50,000 architecture enthusiasts visit the site each year.
The recipient of three honorary doctorates and author of six books, Soleri earned many awards, including gold medals from the American Institute of Architects, the Union of International Architects, the Venice Biennale; the silver medal of the Academie d' Architecture in Paris; Honorary Fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects; the Leone d'oro at the Mostra di Architettura di Venezia (Venice Architecture Biennale) for his lifelong achievement in 2000; and the National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt/Smithsonian Museum.
Over the years, Soleri's architectural commissions have included the Dome House in Cave Creek; the Artistica Ceramica Solimene ceramics factory in Vietri, Italy; the Indian Arts Cultural Center/Theatre in Santa Fe; the Glendale Community College Theater; the University of Arizona College of Medicine chapel; the Scottsdale Pedestrian Bridge and Plaza; and his latest bas-relief murals part of the new I-17 Arcosanti/Cordes Junction traffic interchange.
Soleri continued questioning and creating until his death. The theme of his last project, a series of collages entitled "Then and Now," combined his own signature forms with illustrations of life from antiquity.
A private burial will take place at Arcosanti where Soleri's body will be placed beside his wife, Colly. A public memorial service to celebrate the life of Paolo Soleri will take place at Arcosanti later this year.