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The utopian village of Arcosanti (928/632-7135, www.arcosanti.org, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily) was designed and built by Italian architect Paolo Soleri as the embodiment of his principles of “arcology”—a mixture of architecture and ecology. Soleri’s goal is to create a “lean alternative” to the wastefulness of modern cities by making them more compact and self-sustaining.
His real-world experiment began in 1970, more than two decades after Soleri first came to the Southwest to study with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. Today, Arcosanti is perched in rural splendor on a bluff in Arizona’s high desert and is home to just a few hundred people at any one time.
From a distance, it looks like an unlikely combination of Italian hill town and sci-fi movie. But up close, the small, hand-crafted details of its buildings and the community’s perfectly human scale make it a delight to visit, not to mention a pioneering example of urban sustainability. Guided tours are $10.
Getting to Arcosanti
From Phoenix, drive north some 60 miles on I-17. Take Exit 262 for AZ-69 toward Prescott and turn right on Cordes Lakes Road. From there, signs for Arcosanti should direct you left on Stagecoach Trail, which is unpaved after a brief asphalt stretch, then onto Cross I Trail.
From Sedona, head south on AZ-279 to I-17. Take it 36 miles south to Exit 262, then follow the directions above.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition