Born in 1919 in Turin, Italy, Soleri studied architecture at the Torino Polytechnico, receiving his Ph.D. in 1946. The following year he traveled to the U.S. to begin an eighteen-month fellowship at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin East and Taliesin West. Returning to Italy in 1950, he designed the Ceramica Artistica Solimene, a project which taught him the art of ceramic casting.
Soleri returned to Arizona in 1956 and with his wife established the Cosanti Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to research and experimentation in urban planning and architecture. The foundation was based out of Soleri’s self-designed home and studio, Cosanti. In his design Soleri experimented with the use of earth cast structures, a method he would use more extensively at Arcosanti, an experimental town in the desert north of Phoenix. Begun in 1979, the design for Arcosanti is based on Soleri’s concept of Arcology, the idea that the full integration of architecture and ecology will result in the design of dense, compact, environmentally-sensitive cities.
Soleri’s work has been featured in exhibitions worldwide. He received fellowships from the Graham Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation and was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for Craftmanship, the Gold Medal from the World Biennial of Architecture and the Silver Medal of the Academie d' Architecture in Paris.The author of six books, he has had numerous articles published on his work.
Photo by Jak Keyser, courtesy The Cosanti Foundation