Friday, July 31


Paolo Soleri, the Utopian architect, built an "earth house" (1956-1958), just a few miles from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West. The earth house explored natural forms and building techniques. The partially subterranean complex, named Cosanti, incorporated residences, ceramics studios, and apprentice quarters. Based on passive solar principles, the structures are still cool in the hot desert days and warm at night. 25 x 35 ft, 6 ft below the level of the desert floor, Cosanti is covered by a 3-in.-thick curved and ribbed shell roof and exposed to inquisitive visitors most days of the year

Today, the painted colors are faded and heat off the concrete lifts your breath away. It's hard to imagine this site being excavated in the undeveloped desert of 1950's Scottsdale; summer without air conditioning, cold winter nights so dry your skin can crack.

But the excitement of working with Soleri, within miles of Wright's western hub, urban development in Phoenix and Scottsdale exploding. How could it have been anything but exhilarating?

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