An investment firm run by Microsoft founder Bill Gates has paid $80 million for 25,000 acres of Arizona desert to serve as the site of a new “smart city.” To be known as Belmont, the city will be made up of 80,000 residences, as well offices, retail spaces and civic amenities such as schools and police stations. The city will serve as a test ground for the latest in logistical and infrastructural technologies.
This article was originally published by Common Edge as "The Work of Architecture in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction."
I attended graduate school, in geography, in Tucson, Arizona, in the late 1990s. Tucson draws fame from a number of things, including its Mexican-American heritage, its chimichangas, its sky islands, and its abundant population of saguaro cacti.
Plenty of things about Tucson, though, are perfectly, achingly ordinary.
Perhaps the most ordinary thing about Tucson led me to develop something halfway between a hobby and an academic pursuit. On occasion, whether for sport or research, friends and I used to go “sprawl-watching.” We were not exactly, say, Walter Benjamin strolling through the arcades, embracing the human pageantry of Paris. But we did our best to plumb Tucson’s depths.
How much space do we really need to take up in order to have rich and rewarding lives?
In this short documentary for The Atlantic, filmmaker Sam Price-Waldman visits Arcosanti, the revolutionary experimental community and urban laboratory envisioned by architect Paolo Soleri. Since its founding by Soleri in the northern Arizona desert in 1970, the city has grown and evolved as it has demonstrated how to create a walkable, social city that could meet the needs of future societies.
The video is narrated by architect and Arcosanti co-president Jeff Stein, who explains how the city is able to maximize the potential of architecture for providing for communities, and features interviews with several Arcosanti community members.
Architecture Students From Taliesin West Learn Survival Skills by Creating "Little Shelters" in the Arizona Desert
Students from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Taliesin West have designed and built “Little Shelters,” a collaborative project in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, as part of a design and build studio led by little maps.
The project began with an individual exercise, where students Daniel Chapman, Mark-Thomas Cordova, Jaime Inostroza, Dylan Kessler, Pablo Moncayo, Natasha Vemulkonda, and Pierre Verbruggen each created their own temporary shelters. Partially due to harsh desert conditions, the students, with their instructor David Tapias, later decided to design and build as a collective effort instead.
Is there such a thing as a perfect prison? Is it possible, even in theory, to satisfy needs as potentially contrasting as those of inmates, victims and society?
Rather than avoiding prison design on moral grounds, Combo Competitions wants to encourage architects and designers to confront the issue, looking for fitting solutions to a problem that is yet to be solved.
The goal of Prison Puzzle is to design an ideal prison, located in the desert of Arizona, United States. The concept should address the different interests and requirements found in inmates, victims as well as society as a whole, and the
PBS’ American Masters series and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES series have teamed up for the first time to delve into the life and work of Pedro E. Guerrero, a Mexican American photographer from Mesa, Arizona, who is known for his photography of the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, among other artists.
The film, Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey, explores Guerrero’s photography, showing his collaboration with Frank Lloyd Wright to “produce insightful portraits of important modernist architecture,” which launched him to become “one of the most sought-after photographers of the ‘Mad Men’ era.” While Guerrero was extremely popular at the time, his story today is still largely unknown.
Architectural LEGO® artist Adam Reed Tucker has summoned a team of kids to help him rebuild Taliesin West as the largest Frank Lloyd Wright LEGO® structure in history. Unveiled this past Thursday, the eight by four foot model was comprised of more than 180,000 standard LEGO® parts. Tucker spent 40 hours researching and studying the project, 120 hours designing and 260 hours constructing the final model. Taliesin West, nestled in Scottsdale, Arizona’s Sonoran desert, was the winter home of Wright and is home of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It remains one of the most visited Wright sites in the world.
Weddle Gilmore black rock studio, West 8 and Colwell Shelor Landscape Architecture have been selected to transform 19 acres surrounding Arizona's Mesa City Hall into a unique civic space that will “capture and enhance the urbanizing momentum of Mesa’s downtown core.” Unanimously selected by the City of Mesa, over finalists Woods Bagot + Surface Design and Otak + Mayer Reed, the winning scheme plans to activate the public space with a series of flexible plazas and garden spaces centered around a distinct cooper shade structure.
More about the design and competition, after the break.
The January 8th Memorial Foundation has selected four finalists out of the 60 practices and artists, both national and international, who submitted applications to create a permanent memorial and master plan concept for the El Presidio Park in Tucson, Arizona. The permanent memorial would commemorate the January 8, 2011, mass shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed six people and injured 12 others. The memorial is also intended to honor the spirit of the Tucson community in its responses to the tragedy and to inspire future generations to work together on community issues. The four finalists are:
A self-trained American architect residing in Phoenix’s urban desert, Will Bruder, FAIA, has built a reputation for being one of Arizona’s most prized place-makers. For more than 40 years, Bruder has refined his craft with the completion of over 500 commissions ranging from large-scale civic and cultural projects to private residences and multi-family housing.
The final design concepts for the redesign of Arizona’s Mesa City Center have been unveiled by the competition's three finalist design teams: Colwell Shelor + West 8 + Weddle Gilmore; Woods Bagot + Surface Design; and Otak + Mayer Reed.
The Mesa City Center redesign project aims to develop an 18 acre site in the city’s downtown and enhance the urbanization of the area. When complete, the city center will be transformed into a public space with both programmed and passive space that can be used for informal gatherings as well as events. “The signature public space will be a key element in the activation of the downtown core and will be a catalyst for high intensity redevelopment surrounding City Center with a variety of uses that activate the public space,” the competition website states.
Read on after the break for descriptions and images from the architects of their design proposals…
When the profit-driven bulldozing of virgin desert quickly transformed into unfinished ghost towns in 2008, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, reset their sights on a more sustainable and desirable way of living: walkable communities. With the establishment of the city’s first light rail, the once car-centric communities of its urban core have turned into swaths of pedestrian havens. This has not only improved the city’s desirability, but has also been good for business. See how else Phoenix is trying to “pull off an urban miracle” and reverse it’s sprawled image here on Fast Company.
Although Arizona developer Novawest was determined to build BIG’s 420-foot observation tower in downtown Phoenix before the 2015 Super Bowl, failed negotiations has left them without a site. Once planned for the interior courtyard of the Arizona Science Center, the privately-funded project is now being considered for an undisclosed downtown site with completion rescheduled for 2016. Considering the project has received a considerable amount of support from city officials, it seems inevitable that the BIG pin will eventually be built despite harsh criticism from nearby residents. Modifications for the new site will be minimal. You can review the design here.
Chicago-based Harboe Architects has been chosen by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to construct a preservation master plan for Taliesin West, which will guide future restoration and conservation efforts for the prized National Historic Landmark. Built in Scottsdale, Arizona, by the hands of the architect himself, alongside his apprentices between 1937 and 1959, the desert landmark served as the winter home, studio and school of Frank Lloyd Wright. Read and relive the story of Taliesin West here on ArchDaily.
Taking place October 24-26 at the Phoenix Art Museum, the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit 2013 consists of a 2-day, 5 to 6 session event that gathers voices of architects serving in various leadership roles, including, principals, educators, owners, designers, environmentalists and innovators, in an intimate setting to discuss the challenges and opportunities for women practicing architecture today. The Summit strives to engage speakers and attendees in an open, conversational setting to share both personal and work experiences toward positive contributions through the practice of architecture. To register, and for more information, please visit here.
A glass house in the desert? Was it an architectural caprice, a folly, or was it a solution to the problems of desert living whose appropriateness is still not recognized? Having had the experience of living in The Dome for a full year, through all the seasons, I felt it incumbent upon myself to take a fresh look at this remarkable work of architecture.
Paolo Soleri, its designer, was born in 1920 in Turin, received a PhD in architecture from the Torino Politecnico, and in 1947 came to America to study with Frank Lloyd Wright, remaining with him for just over a year. Mark Mills, who assisted Soleri in the construction of The Dome, was born in 1921, received an architectural engineering degree from the University of Colorado, and studied with Wright for four years. It was at Taliesin that Soleri and Mills became friends. In 1948, when they and two other apprentices were working on an experimental structure at Taliesin West, which became what is known as the Sun Cottage, there was a misunderstanding with Wright that led to all four of them leaving. Soleri and Mills went to work with a developer, providing design work for some condominiums at the base of Camelback Mountain, below the north face in Paradise Valley. Soleri developed a scheme that involved a tower element supporting a hex form canopy and he and Mills built a mockup of Camelback out of concrete block and wood. It was shortly after this that “the Cli,” as she was fondly called, came along.
The complete article after the break...
Today the world has lost one of its great minds. Paolo Soleri, architect, builder, artist, writer, theorist, husband, father, born on Summer Solstice, June 21, 1919, has died at age 93.
Paolo Soleri spent a lifetime investigating how architecture, specifically the architecture of the city, could support the countless possibilities of human aspiration. The urban project he founded, Arcosanti, 65 miles north of Phoenix, was described by NEWSWEEK magazine as “…the most important urban experiment undertaken in our lifetimes.”
His own lifetime of work is represented in models, drawings, books, lectures and museum exhibits throughout the world. Soleri’s exhibition in 1970 at the Corcoran Museum in Washington DC – and the concurrent publication of his landmark book, CITY IN THE IMAGE OF MAN – changed forever the global conversation about urban planning on our living planet. His term, “Arcology” joining the words architecture and ecology to represent one whole system of understanding human life on the earth is meant to serve as the basis for that conversation.
More on the life of Paolo Soleri after the break...
On October 9th, the Arizona Planning Commission met to discuss the proposed landmark designation for the house, an event which attracted over 100 people. According to The New York Times, only 3 people voted against the designation, including the house's current owners, the developers of 8081 Meridian, John Hoffman and Steve Sells.
When the pair bought the house back in June for only $1.8 million (from the pair the Wright's granddaughters had sold the house to for $2.8 million), they thought it was "too good to be true." The property alone could make up to $1.4 million; the pair hoped that by splitting the lot they could make even more.
Unfortunately however, Mr. Sells had no idea of the house's architectural significance. As he told The New York Times, he didn't know the difference “between Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wright brothers. ”
More on the Developers' side of this demolition tale, after the break...