Visionary architect Paolo Soleri dies

April 11, 2013 at 8:59 AM
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PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz., April 11 (UPI) -- Paolo Soleri, the architect who tried to create his vision of environmentally sensitive building in the Arizona desert, has died. He was 93.

The Cosanti Foundation announced Soleri's death, the Los Angeles Times reported. An official with the foundation said he died Tuesday of natural causes at his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Soleri, who was born in Turin, Italy, and received his architecture degree in Italy, came to the United States in 1947 to apprentice himself to Frank Lloyd Wright. He stayed with Wright for two years, leaving partly because he had come to disagree with Wright's vision of suburban communities designed for automobile traffic.

Soleri married Corolyn "Colly" Woods, the daughter of his first independent client. The couple lived in Italy for six years before returning to the United States in 1956.

Arcosanti, Soleri's attempt to build a planned green community 70 miles north of Phoenix, was in some ways a direct challenge to Wright. The project was only a few miles from Wright's Taliesin West near Scottsdale.

But Arcosanti existed mainly as a dream. Only a few of Soleri's planned buildings have been constructed, and the community has only about 100 residents.

Much of Soleri's income over the years has come from selling wind chimes and bells, using ceramic techniques he learned in Italy. He designed a pedestrian bridge in Scottsdale and an amphitheater in Santa Fe, N.M., but most of his energy was devoted to Arcosanti.

Some of his ideas have caught on through the work of his apprentices and with increasing attention to the environment.

Soleri is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren.

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