A few days ago I came across these words by 1961-1963 Cosanti alumnus Cuyler Page [J.C. Page] and want to share them here.
“What reminded me of the Cosanti approach was that all of us there were united in some manner to the Cause of the work.
It was never spoken about, and each of us had a totally unique notion of what that meant and why we cared to be there, but we shared a mutual respect for each other and for the Soleris and were grateful to be included in the adventure of life that existed there. The lack of money combined with dreams of creating an architectural / landscape environment for living and working led to the intense creative frugality that became a trademark for Paolo’s approach.
At that early time, I never got the idea that he objected to money or wealth, and he had been pleased to design a restaurant for a wealthy client – until the client suddenly decided to move to Chicago instead and abandoned the project. That was the point of frustration at not seeing something he had designed get built when Paolo declared that he would no longer accept any clients and would only work for himself and on his visions.
The joy of his work at that time was all about problem solving, not philosophic visions of how to organize cities. The concepts of city organization grew from his method of solving problems, but for me the greatness he brought to life was the creativity brought to problem solving in general. It was his way of stepping back and seeing the potentials in any situation and then taking action with them to combine them into a structure or a concept drawing or inviting Kri’s dance instructor to come at 6 AM so we could all exercise with dance moves under the desert sky during the sunrise. (That strategy also got us apprentices to get up earlier so we could start work earlier, 7 AM instead of our usual 8 AM – work was always foremost!)
That approach to problem solving was what I also saw at the monastery and what caused me to link Paolo’s growing self-conscious encouragement of frugality with the larger concepts he drew and modeled. Frugality seemed to not mean cheap, but often took the form of multiple uses of what was expensive for greater benefits than if any one use was to be accomplished alone.
An example would be the Dams and Bridges that were intended to be hotels and restaurants as well as vehicle supports. It was all about getting the biggest bang for the buck, not just physically and economically but also emotionally and aesthetically.”