Paolo Soleri died this past April and I've had a few months to reflect on the man and his dramatic influences on my own life. I first learned about Paolo Soleri's work when I was around 9 or 10, having seen his seminal book Arcology: The City in the Image of Man, MIT Press, 1969. I was smitten. If this was Architecture, than I wanted in! The drawings within the book were literally fantastic, with incredible structures, that were a cross between massive earth works and human generated spatial geometries. I still have the book, through all my years in architecture school and various architecture firms, and even through the 5 years of living through the raw and spartan sanctuary called Arcosanti; the book still remains. A testament, perhaps, to the power of ideas in general, and Soleri's ideas in particular. There have been a number of obituraries written about Soleri, but this one from The Gaurdian, is the one I find most compelling.
Seeing Gaudi's architecture was one of the seminal experiences which led to my interest in an aesthetic immersed in organic geometric transandental abstraction. He was the master at combinig form, pattern, surface, color into an ecstatic spatial experience. I recently stumbled upon a current look at his masterwork, Sagrada Famila, via a "60 Minutes" segment. The link below leads to the video episode.
Construction on the Sagrada Familia began in 1883, when famed architect Antoni Gaudi first laid the blueprint for his now-iconic Barcelona church. Gaudi devoted his last years to the project, and 130 years later, it's widely regarded as one of the most stunningly unique buildings on Earth. It also has yet to be completed.
I was playing around with Google Maps, looking for some views which reveal something about the geography surrounding Roden Crater and lucked out with this image. I visited Roden Crater sometime during my time at Arcosati, 1991-1996, and I remember the spectacular views afforded in the area; it is beautifully situated at the intersection of the pine forests surrounding Flagstaff and the Painted Desert. This satellite image begins to give one a sense of that incredible landscape.
It seems that things are reaching a crescendo for James Turrell and his phenomenal Roden Crater project. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this magnificent project. Here is the latest from the LA Times:
It stands alone in the field, apart from hundreds of other volcanoes. It shows signs of being a manmade monument, with paths winding around it, a small building with the horizontal thrust of a Neutra home embedded in one side and an entrance nearby.
Roden Crater is an extinct volcanic cinder cone, situated at an elevation of approximately 5,400 feet in the San Francisco Volcanic Field near Arizona’s Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon. The roughly 400,000 year old, 600 foot tall red and black cinder cone is being turned into a monumental work of art and naked eye observatory by the artist James Turrell. Working with visual phenomena that have interested man since the dawn of civilization, the Roden Crater project will bring the light of the heavens down to earth, linking visitors with the celestial movements of planets, stars and distant galaxies. In addition to exploring the interplay of light and space in his art, Turrell has looked closely at the design of ancient observatories as places for visual perception:
I admire Borobudur, Angkor Wat, Pagan, Machu Picchu, the Mayan pyramids, the Egyptian pyramids, Herodium, Old Sarum, Newgrange and the Maes Howe. These places and structures have certainly influenced my thinking. These thoughts will find concurrence in Roden Crater.