Paolo Soleri, a visionary architect who was best known as the designer and oracle of Arcosanti, a settlement in the Arizona high desert that became a symbol of hippie-era utopianism and a prescient environmentalism, died on Tuesday at Cosanti, his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz. He was 93.
His foundation, also named Cosanti, announced his death.
Dr. Soleri, who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940s, developed a philosophy he called arcology — architecture coupled with ecology — that some saw as an answer to suburban sprawl. It involved building densely packed, bee-hive-like buildings that “held out a promise of not just an alternative architecture but alternative culture,” the architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote in The New York Times in 1989.
Dr. Soleri’s basic idea was that architecture and ecology are inseparable in their effect on people. In his view, technology always moves toward miniaturization, just as nature tends toward complexity and compactness. Human habitation, he believed, must also move toward more compact, multilayered and multidimensional spaces instead of scattering or spreading across the landscape.
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