What Is The Cosanti Foundation?
Arcosanti Is a Project of The Cosanti Foundation
Founded in 1965, The Cosanti Foundation is an Arizona-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Our mission is to inspire a reimagined urbanism that builds resilient and equitable communities sustainably integrated with the natural world.
Our vision is a world of equitable communities which improve earth/life balance and do better with less.
We pursue this mission and vision at our two flagship locations, Cosanti (in Paradise Valley near Phoenix) and Arcosanti (near Mayer in central Arizona), as well as with projects, programs, and partnerships that hundreds of thousands of people have participated in over the last 57 years.
The word “cosanti” is a combination of the Italians words “cosa” (meaning “things”) and “anti” (meaning “against” or “before”). It signifies The Cosanti Foundation’s commitment to a way of living, working, and building that is oriented away from consumption and materialism, and is respectful of our planet’s natural rhythms and resources. Through ongoing experimentation with and application of the principles of arcology (a combination of the words architecture and ecology), we seek to demonstrate a kind of construction and community that offers an alternative to sprawl development and a solution to modern social and environmental crises.
The Cosanti Foundation also owns and operates the for-profit Cosanti Originals, where we make our world-famous bronze and ceramic windbells and other artisan items.
How We Work
Over the last 60 years, The Cosanti Foundation has developed an extensive set of educational programs that help to increase public understanding of arcology. Through hands-on workshops, lectures, publications, academic partnerships, cultural collaborations, festivals, conferences, and tours of the experimental architecture at both Cosanti and Arcosanti, The Cosanti Foundation has reached millions of people all over the world, and continues to reach and teach hundreds of thousands of people every year.
Cosanti and Arcosanti were built by hand by more than 8000 students and volunteers who came from all over the world to participate in our signature multi-week workshop program. That program continues today, but with an emphasis on maintaining and utilizing a prototype arcology and urban laboratory, rather than merely building one. Graduates of this program are considered our alumni.
The four central tenets described below are our core areas of advocacy, and have guided our work from the beginning.
Embracing Frugality & Resourcefulness
Thoughtfully approaching the built world and our practices in daily life in ways that are experientially rich but materially frugal.
Nurturing Ecological Accountability
Supporting the world’s human habitat without burdening the Earth’s capacity and limited natural resources.
Fostering Experiential Learning
Promoting the empowering impact of learning-by-doing and the dynamic educational experience that comes from immersion in one’s work.
Leaving a Limited Footprint
Advocating for an urban density model where mixed-use spaces make better use of limited resources and connect to economic, social, and cultural outlets.
Who We Are
Get to know the staff and board of The Cosanti Foundation.
Our Senior Staff
CEO & Executive Director
Read Liz's Bio
Originally from New York, Liz holds degrees as a Master of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Tulane University. She has more than 30 cumulative years of experience as a practicing and principal architectural designer and more than 15 years of experience as an academic-practitioner teaching domestically and internationally as a professor of architecture and urban design.
Liz was most recently a tenured Professor of Architecture at Kennesaw State University’s College of Architecture and Construction Management in metro-Atlanta, where she chaired the thesis program and serves as the college’s academic outreach liaison.
In the course of her distinguished career, Liz has curated, presented, lectured, and published extensively. Her lifelong commitment to her profession and to her community is evident in her service as part of dozens of commissions, committees, and councils, including the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Women’s Leadership Initiative, Metropolitan Public Art Coalition (MPAC), and AIACC Monterey Design Conference committee. She has been awarded numerous grants, including, most recently, a Precast Concrete Institute (PCI) Foundation Curriculum Development Grant for a project entitled “Integrating Precast: Threads of Constructability, Complexity and Constraint” ($100,000 over 4 years).
Liz has also received a variety of honors and accolades for her dynamic work, such as the AIA/ACSA Practice and Leadership Award (2019), AIAS Educator of the Year Award (2020), and most recently, recognition as part of the ULI Atlanta “The Leaders” 2021 cohort. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Liz is a musician, having graduated from the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division with a major in violin and composition.
Read Jean's Bio
Jean brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position by working with national nonprofits to deliver excellence to clients while driving sustainable growth. She has provided technical assistance to support nonprofit audits, quality assurance design, and organizational development. As an integral member of the Executive Team, Tuller will oversee the day-to-day operations, including administrative and fiscal management of the Foundation & Originals, while working alongside the CEO/Executive Director & Board of Directors to construct an enhanced vision to better serve the ever-changing needs of the organization and its community.
When she is not working, Jean most values her family time with her partner Anna and their border collie.
Our Board of Directors
Matteo Di Michele
After working in Milan as a contract law adviser with a large telecommunications company, Matteo moved to Arcosanti where he resided and worked for more than 10 years with a variety of responsibilities including human resources management, workshop coordination, operations management, and the development of strategic partnerships with cultural institutions and universities.
In 2012 Matteo received his MBA in Supply Chain and Operations Management at Arizona State University and relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife Emily, and their two daughters. Matteo currently works with Bank of America where he holds the position of Senior Vice President with the Global Corporate Services team.
Kelli was a resident at Arcosanti from 2002 to 2006, along with her husband, Jim, and twins (born in 2005). During that time, Kelli served for a year as the public relations coordinator and for three years as the workshop/internship coordinator. She was also a member of the Arcosanti Leadership Team, focusing on human resources procedures.
Mr. Stein has lectured about the work of Cosanti Foundation/Arcosanti in numerous public arenas including DOCOMOMO, FORBES’ Techonomy Conferences, AIA Conferences, The Santa Fe Institute, Oregon’s HOPES conference; and throughout Europe and the Middle East. Jeff was a longtime board member of the Boston Society of Architects, The Frank Lloyd Wright School, Ecosa Institute, and EcoCity Builders. He has published widely, including “Visionary Architecture” in the AIA 150th Anniversary book, ARCHITECTURE: CELEBRATING THE PAST, DESIGNING THE FUTURE.
Stephen became acquainted with The Cosanti Foundation in 2005 as a contractor selected to construct silt cast wall panels as art features for the Soleri Bridge Project. Paolo Soleri and Roger Tomalty were involved in the project as artist and artistic consultant respectively. The Architecture of Cosanti intrigues Stephen, and served as the catalyst to become more involved with the organization as a volunteer.
New York, NY
He lived and worked in Arcosanti from 2009 to 2012 as a research and design expert for Arcosanti planning department. During his three and half years of residency his main focus was on strategizing and visualization of Arcology. In 2012, Youngsoo coauthored book Lean Linear City: Arterial Arcology with Paolo Soleri and other alumni. Also he helped curation of Paolo Soleri’s exhibition in China back in 2011. Youngsoo believes Arcology as vision and Arcosanti as community have unique place in the era of climate change.
Dr. Carolyn J Lukensmeyer
In 1995, Carolyn founded AmericaSpeaks, a non-partisan non-profit organization that strengthens citizen voice in decision making.
From 1986 to 1991, Carolyn was Chief of Staff to Governor Celeste of Ohio becoming the first woman to serve in this capacity. Later, she was Consultant to the White House Chief of Staff for nine months during the Clinton years. She ensured that systematic thinking was part of the White House’s work on internal management issues and she was also heavily involved in government-wide reform. Lukensmeyer directed the management audit that evaluated the decision-making processes and structures of the White House. After the audit was complete, Lukensmeyer made recommendations for staff changes and redesigning the system between working units.
As a leader in the field of deliberative democracy, she works to restore our democracy to reflect the intended vision of our founding fathers. She earned her PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University and has completed postgraduate training at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.
As former Director of Team Experience at Tuft & Needle (TN.com), the company that disrupted the mattress industry and revolutionized the employee experience, Sarah nurtured the award-winning start-up culture by producing large scale team events and a best-in-class work environment that enabled breakthrough work and team execution. Tuft & Needle’s culture accolades include earning Entrepreneur’s 2017 Top Company Culture Award and being named one of Phoenix Business Journal’s Best Places to Work in 2017.
After her time in the start-up world, she transitioned to focus on ceramics, where she currently creates both functional and sculptural designs that feature high-contrast, familiar silhouettes, with an eye for the underrated every day.
In 2019, Sarah and her husband, JT, purchased Paolo Soleri’s only commissioned residential home to preserve and share its unique history.
As a board member, Sarah brings a passionate drive to help develop and progress Cosanti’s big vision with a fresh perspective from her experience operating high-performance teams and creatively supporting digitally native brands.
Jeff opened his own practice in Prescott, Arizona in 1986 with Tom Reilly, also an Arcosanti participant. One of their earliest commissions was the design for La Loggia, one of the potential future structures at Arcosanti, followed by the Energy Apron Greenhouses.
In 1995, Jeff teamed up with Paul Moore, yet another Arcosanti alumn, to create a company called Cohocom, dedicated to the fostering of cohousing communities. Together, they founded Manzanita Village of Prescott, which continues as a thriving community to this day.
Over a career spanning five decades, Jeff’s clients ranged from private residences, to Indigenous cultural centers, and nature centers. His stone house was published in “The Cabin Book” by Linda Leigh Paul. His work also appeared in “Architecture + Magazine” for “The Leaf House.” His design for The Los Alamos County Nature Center received the Southwest Building of the Year award from McGraw-Hill publishing. He also received the “Architect of the Year” award from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Jeff continued his association with Arcosanti as a consultant until 2019, and joined the Board of Directors of The Cosanti Foundation in 2022.
A former member of The Screen Actors Guild, Jeff is also an accomplished actor, having appeared on stage numerous times, including in over a dozen plays by Shakespeare. He now lives in Oracle, AZ with his wife, Jean Wilcox. These days, in addition to practicing architecture, he has turned his attention to writing, and is currently working on the third book of “The New Moon Trilogy.”
Our Board Committees
The committees above are each chaired by a current board member and open to public involvement. Please reach out to the committee if you are interested in participating. In addition to these committees, the board’s Executive Committee consists of the board officers (chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer) and the committee chairs, with the Executive Director as a non-voting member.
Our Financial Reports
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Cosanti Foundation is pleased to be able to share our annual IRS Form 990 with the public. Our Federal Tax ID Number is 86-0208931. Our fiscal year runs December 1st through November 30th.
The #metoo movement has brought to light many abuses against women around the world that were not previously acknowledged and addressed. As a microcosm of the macrocosm, The Cosanti Foundation has had its own issues relating to abuse that we have chosen to address directly and proactively. Visit our #MeToo page to learn more.
Raising Awareness about Racism and Civil Rights
For over two decades at Arcosanti, The Cosanti Foundation has celebrated Juneteenth with performances, concerts, and programming to celebrate and draw attention to the historic and profound significance of this day. We pledge to continue listening, learning, and identifying the steps we can take to continue our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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