Arcosanti is the brainchild of the late Paolo Soleri (1919-2013), an Italian American architect who pioneered Arcology (Architecture + Ecology). He was mentored by Frank Lloyd Wright and founded the Cosanti Foundation which funds the Arcosanti project through a bronze bell casting business.
Originally, the Arcosanti was envisioned to house about 5000 people who would be later known as Arconauts. Construction began around 1970 and lasted till 1989. The magnificent project is a testament to the fact that sustainable living is possible in our time without having a drastic detrimental impact on the earth. The goals of the project were to combine social interaction and accessibility of an urban environment with sound environmental principles that could technically create an entire ecology of its own inside the town itself. To date, a total of 13 structures have been built on Arcosanti each ranging in various sizes and consisting of several stories. A new plan was developed around 2001 for a new complex called the Arcosanti 5000 which is envisioned to be the largest complex yet on the site that sits on a massive 4060 acres of land preserve. The experimental Arcosanti itself sits on 25 acres at the moment. The existing complexes already can provide for the population that lives there which varies from 50-150 per time, mostly consisting of students and volunteers who help to build the place. Currently, Arcosanti gets visited by approximately 40,000 tourists yearly. Now, the majority of the project’s fundings comes from the on-site bell casting business, donations, and the fees from workshops which last about 5 weeks.
Participants enrolling in the workshop attend lectures from Paolo Soleri and learn about the principles of Arcology, at the same time they gain hands-on learning experience by aiding in the construction. The program attracts students from diverse backgrounds that include people interested in art, architecture to philosophy, sociology, science, and agriculture.
In 2011, at 92 years of age Paolo Soleri retired as Founder, President, and CEO of Arcosanti. Jeff Stein, an architect from Boston took over the project after Soleri. To date, about 7000 people have helped build the Arcosanti.