Arcosanti felt like an anachronism, a permanent representation of a different time and a different ideology. Walking through the domes felt like walking through ruins, rather than the white-hot center of architectural thought it ought to have been, and to many, always seemed so close to becoming. (The idea of arcology has always been touted as of crucial importance — just not yet.) Unlike New Delhi, which has blossomed since I lived there, Arcosanti was too rigid of a structure — literally, its physical plant couldn’t adapt, and figuratively, its social structure was too fixed — to contain the full spectrum of people a city needs to survive; not just high priests and acolytes, but entrepreneurs and rogues too. From my perspective as an eighteen-year-old architecture student who, at the time, shared (or thought he shared) Soleri’s vision, Arcosanti was undone by the same thing that killed off so many other projects: the people living in it. Not so much because they didn’t believe what Soleri believed, but because the original people working there either got frustrated and left, or stayed there and got older and settled into their cozy, Soleri-designed apartments to live a pleasant, hippy-dream life, sustained by the acolytes, the eager arcology champions like myself, who paid a couple hundred dollars to come out to the Arizona desert and learn from the master.
more from James McGirk at Wired here.