Arcosanti: The experiment lives on as urban lab approaches 50th year

The view of the night sky from the ceramics apse at Arcosanti. / Photo by Meg Potter / Cronkite News

By Lauren Schieler | Cronkite News

At the end of a 2-mile dirt road in the Arizona desert lives a community of people longing to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

For nearly 50 years, Arcosanti has drawn innovators who wish to leave city life behind and experiment with an alternative, more sustainable lifestyle.

Some stay for a few months; some never leave.

One who never left is Mary Hoadley. She was 25 when she dropped out of graduate school in 1970, just as the project – the brainchild of architect and urban planner Paolo Soleri – was breaking ground. She was unsure what she wanted to do with her life. It was her love for architecture that attracted her to help develop Arcosanti. She planned to stay a few weeks, but the weeks turned into months and the months into years. Now 75, Hoadley has devoted most of her life to Arcosanti.

“I got captivated by the idea of going off into the desert to build a prototype alternative to sprawl,” Hoadley said. “It was as appealing 50 years ago as it is today, and as needed.”

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