From the freeway, Arcosanti is an easy, 2.5-mile drive along a dirt road. (Okay, the washboard can jar your fillings loose, but you don’t need four wheel drive.) Park and follow the signs that direct you to the gift shop, where you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for an hour-long tour. If you really want to appreciate what Soleri is trying to accomplish with Arcosanti, take the tour. It’s well worth the $10 suggested donation.
The tour begins with a short, 13-minute film introducing Soleri and his concept of “arcology,” architecture and ecology working together to create a new urban environment. From there, the guide leads you into areas that are off-limit to the gift shop visitors. We saw how they made ceramic bells using a process that Soleri adapted to create the large domes figuring prominently into Arcosanti’s architecture. Then, we continued to the foundry where the bronze bells were made. Our guide pointed out the residences, the amphitheater and even the swimming pool.
A word of caution: Most of the tour is outdoors, and indoor areas are cooled by evaporative, or swamp, coolers. That means summer is not the best time to visit, especially in July and August. Bring water, and apply liberal doses of sunscreen. You’ll also want to dress appropriately during the winter.