The Archives at Arcosanti: Preserving History…Even As It Happens
Over the span of his career, Paolo Soleri was prolific in his output as a theorist, an architect, and an artist and the evidence of this industriousness is in the thousands of personal papers, journals, sketchbooks, original drawings, and models he produced. Recognizing the archival value of these materials to scholars, journalists, and historians, a deliberate effort was made in the mid 1990’s to gather, catalogue, and preserve them in one place: Arcosanti, the experimental micro-city for which Soleri is best known. Here in the climate-controlled and fire-proof vault, these invaluable objects and materials share space with volumes of Workshoppers’ journals, photographs, film, and marketing materials like the posters from the late 1960’s promoting silt pile workshops at Cosanti.
Overseen by a chief archivist and several volunteers, the Paolo Soleri Archives at Arcosanti not only coordinates the conservation and cataloging of materials related to Paolo Soleri and his career, but also documents the goings-on at Arcosanti and Cosanti, Soleri’s former residence and architectural studio in Paradise Valley, Arizona and the work of The Cosanti Foundation.
Most recently, Archives has been working to establish a conservation program for the thousands of works on paper, particularly those that have been damaged or previously contained in poor storage conditions. As part of the preparation for their retrospective exhibition on Soleri in 2005, the conservation staff at the Instituto Nazionale per la Grafica in Rome, Italy restored over 100 original drawings and the Paolo Soleri Archives at Arcosanti hopes to continue their important work on the thousands of works on paper that remain.
Through a recent grant-funded initiative, a dedicated Archives staff member has been translating original Paolo Soleri architectural drawings into virtual reality experiences. The Cosanti Foundation has created a program to bring the virtual reality experience to cultural experiences like Canal Convergence in Scottsdale held annually each fall in and through other partnerships.
Access to the Paolo Soleri Archives at Arcosanti is by appointment only and limited to those pursuing curatorial, scholarly, or historic projects.
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