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Arcosanti is an experimental town that began construction in 1970 in central Arizona, 65 miles north of Phoenix. Architect Paolo Soleri, using a concept he calls arcology (a fusion of architecture and ecology), started the town to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth.
In 1976, Newsweek declared: "As urban architecture, Arcosanti is probably the most important experiment undertaken in our lifetime." "Undertaken" being the keyword -- then and now. Completion has legendarily eluded Arcosanti. Built-in stages and chronically underfinanced, the place exists in a permanent state of half-doneness. What was once the future of intelligently designed communities has morphed into something less optimistic: a stalled revolution in urban planning or a moldering relic of impractical idealism, depending on whom you ask. Often enough it's referred to as Mr. Soleri's "desert utopia," and as with all utopias, reality doesn't always match the blueprints.
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