Paolo Soleri’s Cosanti windbells, his art and architecture have made their stamp on Arizona residences and commercial businesses for decades. But for the first time, the Cosanti Foundation has compiled “Soleri in the Valley” — a list of notable places where Cosanti windbells ring and Soleri’s signature works help define Arizona landmarks.
Who is Paolo Soleri?
“...to make conditions in the future a little better than they are now...that’s the function of architecture.” —Paolo Soleri
Architect, urban designer, artist, craftsman and philosopher, Soleri founded Cosanti, Arcosanti, and The Cosanti Foundation to test and demonstrate an alternative human habitat that creates balance between man and his environment.
Cosanti, which was built in Paradise Valley in the 50s, is the blending of two Italian words — “cosa” and “anti” — meaning “before things.” As a term to describe Soleri’s conviction that “man’s ideal habitat is one that situates him with direct access to nature and to others, ‘cosanti’ de-emphasizes materialism and at the same time promotes connection between people. Before there were things, there were people.” The term embodies a way of building, dwelling and living that is materially frugal but experientially enriching.
Where to Find His Work in the Valley
The Foundation’s compiled list of Soleri’s signature work includes:
- Dome Home in Cave Creek — the first home Soleri built.
- Neiman Marcus in Scottsdale — Cosanti windbells welcome shoppers at the main entrance.
- Soleri Bridge in Scottsdale — Built in 2010, the bridge and special assembly over the canal celebrated its 10th anniversary in December.
- The Arizona Biltmore — Cosanti windbells reside within Frank and Albert’s restaurant.
- Burton Barr Central Library — An entire bell collection is featured on the second floor, outside The AZ Room.
- Phoenix Art Museum — Soleri’s large metal sculpture greets guests outside the main entrance.
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — Terminal 4 features a hanging special assembly, post security.
- Mayo Clinic — Cosanti windbells hang in the main lobby.
- The Arizona Cancer Center Chapel (University of Arizona campus in Tucson) — The chapel boasts a series of vaulted ceiling panels and vertical wall panels that together form “A Tree of Life” installation and a large sculptural bell mobile.
- Glendale Community College features the Soleri Amphitheatre in the grassy northwest corner of campus.
- The DeConcini House in Phoenix — Soleri’s “stamp” on this project includes signature motifs such as cast concrete panels, the large letter ‘P” shaped entranceways and cantilevered counters.
Soleri’s Legacy Continues: Cosanti, Arcosanti and Beyond
“We must redefine the American Dream before we can rebuild the infrastructure on which it is based.” —Paolo Soleri
Cosanti windbells and much of Soleri’s history can be found at Cosanti Originals Studio and Gallery in Paradise Valley, including the CAT-cast house, apse, gallery and studio. Info: 480.948.6145; cosanti.com.
In 1970, The Cosanti Foundation began construction of Arcosanti in Mayer, a prototype arcology in the higher-elevation Arizona desert that is considered an important and early example of a radical urban plan that enables conservation of land, energy and natural resources. Info: arcosanti.org.
Soleri’s legacy can also be seen in murals throughout Arizona on highway underpasses such as Exit 263 — the Arcosanti Road exit — on I-17 and along 22 miles of the new extension of the 202 South Mountain Freeway. |CST