The idea of Arcosanti being rated again and again on the “ten best utopias/hippie communes/failed utopias/etc…” in the media opens up a can of worms, because Soleri would often get upset when Arcosanti Arizona and Utopia would used in relation to each other (Like for example: Is Arcosanti a utopian experiment?).
One of the challenges in the past is that it seemed easier to say what Arcosanti wasn’t rather than clearly articulate what it was. Sure its a construction site and urban lab, but these became seen as hollow terms as the roaring fire of life and construction at Arcosanti in the 70s burned out to a mere flicker of its former self. Thus can we blame critical thinking left leaning intellectuals when they come to Arcosanti looking for a real alternative to suburban sprawl and overconsumption and leave wondering “where’s the beef?”
The growing gulf between the vision of Arcosanti as prototype Arcology and the actual reality of project after 40 years of planning, only served to relegate it to utopian fantasy category. Yet to many coming to Arcosanti in the 70s it seemed that Soleri’s quest to build the “city of the future” with a bold vision combined with sweat and hard work seemed reachable and attainable.
A key question for the Memorial event on the Sept 20th should be: What generated and propelled the momentum and excitement that people involved in the project had in the 1970s and how possibly could Arcosanti and its supporters regain that?