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Arcosanti

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Arcosanti

4 Comments Mayer, Arizona
  View from the Sky Suite at Arcosanti

View from the Sky Suite at Arcosanti


Arcosanti, the concrete urban laboratory located at Cordes Junction, is an easy one hour drive north of Phoenix. Hop on HWY 17 and before too long you will be enveloped by pure Arizona desert. Built in the 1970s by Italian architect Paolo Soleri, this radial community began as a prototype arcology–a compact urban form intended to be self-sufficient and self-contained. The term arcology, coined by Soleri, is a portmanteau of architecture and ecology, now most often realized in sci-fi narratives. Post-doctorate, Soleri spent 18 months as a student at Taliesin West in fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright. Having toured both Taliesin West and Arcosanti myself, it's easy to draw aesthetic similarities, but that's where it stops, as in my research I learned that the men held conflicting architectural philosophies.  While on my impressive one-hour tour at Arcosanti I was informed that Soleri left Taliesin West as he continually found himself in opposition to Wright.

To understand Arcosanti, you must experience it. This arcology was a blueprint for a potential new way of living. It was sustainability decades before it became a buzz word. This space was intended for living, farming, entertaining, working, all within proximity of one another, thus eliminating the need for motorized vehicles, in turn minimizing the human impact on the environment. Soleri began to implement his theoretical vision by erecting Arcosanti and in many ways, his dreams are still being actualized by the current host of residents and volunteers living inside and around this desert commune.

I love Arcosanti because I love to be alone with my thoughts, tucked away in nature. Arcosanti helped me finally embrace that it's the concrete in brutalist architecture–minimal, cold, certain-excites me most of all. The complete silence coupled with crisp clean desert air elevates my consciousness. The sun, as it washes over me, is all the medicine I need for sadness. 

 
 Arcosanti Paolo Soleri Architecture
 Staying at Arcosanti
  Inside the Sky Suite at Arcosanti

Inside the Sky Suite at Arcosanti


An overnight stay in the Sky Suite is imperative while visiting Arcosanti. Overlooking the Agua Fria National Monument and sitting atop of what's probably the tallest man-made point in the Arizona desert, the sunrise makes for the most beautiful I have ever seen. I had anticipated what kind of visuals the windows in the suite would offer and pulled my bed out so that I could wake up to Earth's beauty. This is something best experienced with your own eyes. You can stay at Arcosanti for as low as $30 a night for a small room and shared bath or $40 for a regular room with a private bath. My recommendation is to splurge on the $100 a night Sky Suite, which includes a continental breakfast for two. In true arcology form, food is but a short walk from your front door. I enjoyed two meals during my stay at Arcosanti, as the kitchen serves a few times throughout the day. Dinner is buffet style every night, with volunteers from the center preparing specials to accommodate the salad bar. There's even a make-shift but very cool bar maintained by a friendly man who also appears to live on property. If you want to unplug, forget the bullshit, and simply enjoy life, this is the kind of environment Arcosanti fosters.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the famous Soleri windbells crafted and sold at Arcosanti, so beautiful that we could not pass up the opportunity to take one home. Sales of these bells comprise a major portion of the financing at Arcosanti. As visitors, we were encouraged to see how the ceramic and bronze bells were made, informed that a casting occurs every morning in the foundry. Again, the importance of taking a guided tour while on the property! We woke up early so that we could witness the pouring of the bronze–a completely silent ritual–that is taken extremely serious due to the heat of the metal. Watching the Arcosanti artisans at work was an interesting sight, one I highly recommend.

My stay at Arcosanti reminded me that my life is fueled by the desire to travel, which began as child on the many road trips my family took. As a California resident, many of our excurions were desert focused because of our proximity to Palm Springs, Death Valley, and the Southwest. As you've seen documented through my work for well over a decade, the desert is where I continually go to recharge. Its the place I seek when I need absolute silence The desert gets me. There are no judgments when nature surrounds you. It's hre I feel totally free and realize that I am one dramatic experience away from living on the fringe in Slab City or now, pouring liquid bronze at Arcosanti's foundry. 

Arcosanti | 13555 S. Cross L Rd. Mayer, AZ 86333

 

 
  Arcosanti, Designed by Paolo Soleri

Arcosanti, Designed by Paolo Soleri

Arcosanti_Architecture_Structure.jpg
  Arcosanti Ceramics Apse

Arcosanti Ceramics Apse

  Arcosanti Vaults

Arcosanti Vaults

  Inside Arcosanti Dining Hall

Inside Arcosanti Dining Hall

 Design Inside Arcosanti Dining Hall
Arcosanti_Workshops.jpg
  Arcosanti Soleri Windbells

Arcosanti Soleri Windbells

Arcosanti_CeramicsApse.jpg
Arcosanti_Vaults.jpg
  Sunrise Inside the Sky Suite at Arcosanti

Sunrise Inside the Sky Suite at Arcosanti

Sheats Goldstein Residence

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Sheats Goldstein Residence

Comment Beverly Hills, California
 Basketball at Sheats Goldstein Residence

Basketball at Sheats Goldstein Residence

 

I had the privilege of taking a private tour of the Sheats Goldstein Residence, courtesy of the MAK Center. My friend Preston aka @fakeguccibag joined me on what became one of the coolest architectural afternoons of my life . The anticipation leading up to our arrival elevated alongside the feet we climbed while driving up the winding roads of Beverly Hills. The driveway, feeling like the entrance to Jurassic World, was a clear indication that we were in for something special.

We met our tour docent in the newly built club on the property, where Rihanna celebrated her birthday in 2015. Rih and I hanging in the same place? Makes perfect sense. The view from the club, and everywhere else from the home, was phenomenal – L.A. looked beautiful & calm and I started to fantasize about what it would be like to have an insane amount of money, like the owner James Goldstein.  You may recognize this home from the Snoop Dogg x Pharrell "Let's Get Blown" music video or the Coen Brother's much loved film, The Big Lebowski. The vibes at this estate had me turnt and I was truly luxuriating in every moment that afternoon.

 

One of the most interesting things about this property is that it has its very own James Turrell installation, which if you're not familiar off top, you'll probably remember from Drake's Turrell-inspired "Hotline Bling" music video. If you were following  me on Snapchat - I've since moved to Instagram stories - you got to see a very rare glimpse into the skyspace piece known as Above Horizon.

The estate was built between 1961 - 1963 by John Lautner and has become one of the most well-regarded examples of his incredible career. Not only did he design the home, but he also created all of the interiors including the windows, lighting, rugs, and furniture. It's amazing that our city has institutions like the MAK Center, who create unique architectural experiences that bring attention to the magic of Los Angeles. If you're looking to visit the space, keep your eyes open for the MAK Games which come around every summer. I know I cannot wait for this year's tour and match!

MAK Center | 835 N Kings Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069

 
 
Van Dekker House

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Van Dekker House

Comment Woodland Hills, California
 

I was hyped to be invited to join the MAK Center on another private architectural tour – this time I was headed to the celebrity-abundant Woodland Hills in the Valley. I asked a friend of mine at the time to join me on this venture, as he too had a penchant for beautiful structures. We pulled up to a driveway on Collier Street and could see off top that we were about to enter a rare space. Designed by Master Architect R.M. Schindler and built in 1940, this home was beautifully restored and to the relief of many, made a historical site in 2009.  This three-level house excited with every turn, featuring Schindler's signature built-in furniture, geometric windows, an abundance of natural light, sliding cabinets, and a variety of stairways that lead to hidden nooks throughout the entire space.

The enclosed patio was one of my favorite elements of the house, having the capability of being completely covered and cozy while experiencing the tranquility of the surrounding nature. It was the first time I had seen such a design and I loved it.

Frank Gamwell, who bought the Van Dekker house in 2013 for $700,000, has spent the past 3 years painstakingly restoring every inch of the property and is still putting in the necessary work. He was generous for opening his doors for a private tour and even took a moment to share his hidden wine cellar with us. Upon departure we had to a chance to speak with him further about his love for the home and his neighborhood, in which he mentioned that I could find Chris Brown, Fabio, and Akon within walking distance. I took this as a sign to go speak with Akon about his solar power initiative, but that's another story for another time.

Van Dekker House | 19950 Collier Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91364