Using a concept he calls arcology, architect Paulo Soleri began construction on Arcosanti in 1970. This experimental city was constructed in order to demonstrate how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth. A lack of funding has somewhat crippled the town-site, originally intended to house over 5000 people. The current population varies between 50-150 persons, biased on the number of students and volunteers on the site.
The layout of the buildings is intricate and organic, rather than a typical city grid. The current structures include a five-story visitors’ center/cafe/gift shop, a bronze-casting apse, a ceramics apse, an outdoor amphitheater, a community swimming pool, an office complex, as well as a ring of apartment residences and storefronts. Arcosanti also maintains greenhouses, gardens, and agricultural fields.