Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Degree Level





Buege, David

Committee Member/Reader

Shannon, Jeff

Committee Member/Second Reader

Davidson, Fiona


The city proposals of Paolo Soleri, he called them arcologies, are monumental and complex geometric megastructures intended to project great heights above desert horizons. These proposals purposefully abandon conventional notions of the city.

Soleri was physically isolated in his remote Arizona urban laboratory, Arcosanti, and philosophically detached from the professional urban design community. His proposals were often too easily understood as foreign and radical dystopian architectural metaphors meant to provoke thought more than to project an actual future. There is limited discourse on Soleri and this tends to isolate him in a vacuum, ignoring possible connections or parallels in his work and that of his contemporaries or predecessors. Contextualizing Soleri in history and with other more prominent architects makes his work more accessible, allowing for a more complete evaluation of the merits of compact three-dimensional cities of great density. With the ecological future of the planet in a state of crisis due to rapid climate change and explosive population growth in developing countries, there is an imperative to explore possible urban living solutions that in the past may have been deemed “too radical”.

Two preeminent architects are needed to understand Paolo Soleri. Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn. Wright served as a mentor that Soleri could react strongly against conceptually. Kahn was a peer whose heralded built work has strong similarities to the limited architectural oeuvre of Soleri. Therefore, Kahn’s work provides one the best simulations of the potential architectural qualities of arcologies.


soleri, arcology, wright, kahn, cities, urban design, landscape, arcosanti