Cosanti Foundation President Jeff Stein has returned from a speaking trip to the Santa Fe Institute, America’s center for theoretical physics and research into complex adaptive systems. (Santa Fe, of course, is also home to one of Paolo Soleri’s first large architectural commissions, the Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre, still standing.) Invited there for research collaboration by Institute Distinguished Professor Geoffrey West, Stein’s presentation described the following:

“Abstract:  Cities, and over half the world’s population living in and around them, are now clearly an integral part of earth’s ecology. Arcosanti, the urban experiment founded 40 years ago by architect Paolo Soleri in the Arizona desert, would place cities at the very center of that ecology, at the very center of the web of life on earth.

[photo by Jeff Stein: the seminar room at SFI]

“While those who can afford it continue to trade nature for buildings and their energy needs, Soleri and his Cosanti Foundation have been investigating something very different for more than a generation. That exploration – and its accompanying construction work – continues to promote and develop an urban form (Arcology: Architecture and Ecology) that could foster interdependence and social and ecological well-being through density, frugality and a profound awareness of place.  Meant to embody a holistic understanding of the city as a scalable organism, Arcosanti’s intent is to focus the twin evolutionary forces of miniaturization and complexity on the problem of urban design.”

At the Santa Fe Institute Stein engaged in discussions with SFI President Jerry Sabloff, spent time with West’s team of post-doctoral fellows working on the physics of the growth of cities – “Cities, Scaling, and Sustainability” – and spoke with Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-mann, discoverer of the Quark, who participated in the Arcosanti Minds for History conference back in 1989.

[photo by Jeff Stein: Murray Gell-Mann’s famous book]

Several architects from the Santa Fe area also attended Stein’s seminar, including Ed Mazria, executive director of Architecture 2030, the global organization working toward reducing  fossil fuel use in new buildings to carbon neutrality by 2030.

[in the photo: Jeff Stein and text is also by Jeff Stein]

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