In 2010, SMoCA initiated a series of three exhibitions exploring the trajectory of Paolo Soleri's art, architecture and philosophy. Paolo Soleri: Mesa City to Arcosanti is the second in the series. This exhibition begins in the early 1960s when Soleri shifted his focus from bridges and residences to large-scale urban planning based on environmental accountability. Soleri's first comprehensive vision of a community is Mesa City, an example of what he calls an “arcology,” or an architectural project based on the synthesis of architecture + ecology. In Mesa City, Soleri combines the goals of high-density living, a vibrant urban space, respect for natural resources and a commercial sector based upon creativity. The exhibition will end with Arcosonti (arcology + Cosanti), a project built in the 1970s near Mayer, Arizona.
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Soleri's architectural drawings appear in the form of sketchbooks and uninterrupted drawings on long rolls of butcher paper. On display is a very early design of Mesa City on a scroll from 1959. The second is a bright, imaginative illustration of an even larger, high-density community, Macro-Cosanti; the drawing measures over 40 feet long. Here Soleri’s aesthetic style shines through in brilliant colors and delicate detail. An immense model depicts Soleri’s first three-dimensional imaginings of Arcosanti. It was previously exhibited at the Corcoran Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in the 1970s before construction on Arcosanti began. Additionally, framed drawings, archival photographs, videos and iPads enable visitors to explore hundreds of sketches and see the evolution of Soleri’s visionary urban planning. This series of exhibitions on Paolo Soleri supports SMoCA’s continual innovation in exhibiting art, architecture and design.
More information on Paolo Soleri: Mesa City to Arcosanti here.