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The Arcosanti Archives

The Arcosanti Archives is a little known, but highly important part of Arcosanti, Cosanti, and The Cosanti Foundation. A treasured repository for architectural sketches, drawings, models, manuscripts, and more, the Archives has recently undertaken an initiative to make some of its contents available online in a dedicated website. Click below for a glimpse into this new Arcosanti Archives Website.

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The Archives at Arcosanti: Preserving History…Even As It Happen

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.

Access to the Archives is by appointment only and limited to those pursuing curatorial, scholarly, or historic projects. However, relaunched in Summer 2020, the Archives are offering in-depth tours of its space and treasures two Saturdays each month.

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Partnerships in Preservation

Overseen by a chief archivist and several volunteers, the Archives 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 Archives at Arcosanti hopes to continue their important work on the thousands of works on paper that remain.

Experience the Archives Like Never Before

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 Education Department has created a program to bring the virtual reality experience to schools across the Valley. Building on the emphasis K-12 schools are putting on STEAM (an acronym meaning Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) initiatives, these immersions into the masterful mind of architect Paolo Soleri through virtual reality are inspiring to students.

The musings, notes, and drawings from Soleri’s sketchbooks get a digital reboot as selected pages from these never-before-seen journals come to life. With interpretive text that illuminates and explains Soleri’s provocative philosophies and futuristic architecture, the digital sketchbooks are an engaging and enriching experience made almost tactile through the use of a unique app that allows visitors to virtually turn the pages.

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