A Bridge by Paolo Soleri: A Clip

On December 11, 2010, the Soleri Bridge and Plaza will officially open in Scottsdale, AZ.

When I interviewed Soleri this past July, I asked him if he had any thoughts on the fact that the amphitheater he designed and built in Santa Fe four decades ago was being scheduled for razing at the same time this bridge was being completed.

He began to laugh. “The gods, knowing them, are smiling at me,” he said. Then he became serious. “Things are always unpredictable. This bridge was on the table for something like 30 years. And it’s not the original bridge, this is the latest.”

“Yes, the gods,” I said. We had spoken about “the gods” when I visited him in 2006 and I knew to take that sentence with the largest grain of salt imaginable; Paolo is not a fan of magical thinking or theology.

So, in honor of Bridges, literal and metaphorical, realized and unrealized, here’s a short clip. This is NOT the bridge  you’ll see if you go to Scottsdale. Nor is it site specific. It is, as Sue Anaya, the Arcosanti archivist says, a contemplation. I love that word.


For more bridges, check out Paolo Soleri’s Bridge Design Collection: Connecting Metaphor on ArchDaily.

For reports on the Scottsdale bridge opening, visit Today@Arcosanti. For some background, visit “Paolo Soleri Bridge to Open in December,” by David M. Brown, Architectural Record.

For even more bridges check out “Bridges: Spanning the Ideas of Paolo Soleri” on the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art website.



My Op-Ed on the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater

One of the great things about a blog is it can be a testing ground for new ideas or work. My indignation over the razing of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater inspired me to put together the video of the amphitheater and write a post about it, The Unquantifiablity of a Place, Part 1. Participating in the Save Our Soleri (SOS) page on Facebook further motivated me to expand the post into an op-ed, which Planetizen, a web site dedicated to all things urban planning, ran yesterday.

Click here to read the piece. Watch the video by clicking “Paolo Soleri Amphitheater,” there on the left in that VodPod thingy. below.


Thanks to Tim Halbur for running it and including the video.



News: The Paolo Soleri Amphitheater

Here’s a Santa Fe news report on the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater’s future.


Here’s a press release featuring a response by Paolo Soleri to the news. I love this sentence: “On his visit [in 2009], Soleri said ‘I rediscovered the value of the theater.'”

Unquantifiability of a Place, Part 1: A Clip

I was saddened by the news that the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe, NM, is scheduled to be razed.

Soleri received the commission in 1966 and it was built by him, his apprentices, and students from the Institute of American Indian Arts. New Mexicans considered it to be their state’s premiere venue to hear live music. Some of the performers who have graced its stage:  Carlos Santana, David Byrne, Elvis Costello, Nas, Modest Mouse, King Sunny Ade. A pretty diverse bunch.

The Santa Fe Indian School and the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater are on land owned and operated by the 19 pueblo governors of New Mexico, and the leaders have claimed the theater is a money pit. It seems there was an attempt to get it landmark status, but the articles I read on that front suggest the effort was half-hearted at best. What will happen to this land hasn’t been revealed. I’ve read different things: a parking lot, a casino, a baseball stadium.

Many people don’t want this to happen and they write about their love for this theater with a passion that can only come from people who are part of the affected community, but their pleas seem to fall on deaf ears. Though I lived in Santa Fe briefly, I never saw a concert at the Soleri. In November 2006, though, after my first interview with Paolo Soleri, cinematographer Wolfgang Held and I drove to Santa Fe and shot the theater. Situated perfectly and respectfully in its environment, the theater filled me with the same feeling I have when I walk into a church or through a forest.

Here is a hastily edited (by my standards) tribute to the theater.



June 12, 2010 – News: The Paolo Soleri Amphitheater

July 6, 2010 – My Op-Ed on the Soleri Amphitheater