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home : features : features January 25, 2015

3/20/2013 8:33:00 AM
Renowned architect Soleri thinking ahead to final resting place
Paolo Soleri picked this site to bury his wife, Colly, where he could see her gravesite from his studio window (center backround). The county has approved his request to be buried in the same area.
BBNPhoto/Cheryl Hatrz
Paolo Soleri picked this site to bury his wife, Colly, where he could see her gravesite from his studio window (center backround). The county has approved his request to be buried in the same area.
BBNPhoto/Cheryl Hatrz
Numerous exhibits of Soleriís work going on in April
Two exhibits of Paolo Soleri's work will end next month. The Northern Arizona University Art Museum hosts Think. Draw. Build. Sustain., which explores Soleri's ideas expressed in his sketches, drawings, models and built environment, through April 13. On display through April 28 at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona, is a Soleri exhibition that features Mesa City project, Soleri's first major urban proposal on paper, to the present Arcosanti. A free private tour of Soleri's Cosanti Studios with Roger Tomalty takes place from 11-11:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, with RSVP, and again on Saturday, April 20, at 9 a.m. The Studios are located at 6433 Doubletree Road in Paradise Valley. RSVP at On Saturday, April 20, at 4 p.m. during Modern Phoenix Expo, a showing of a documentary of Paolo Soleri, Beyond Form, takes place at the Stage 2 Theater, inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts building. A question and answer session with director Aimee Madsen and a guided tour of the Soleri exhibition at SMoCA follow. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at or by calling 480-499-8587.

Sue Tone

Always planning for the future, renowned architect Paolo Soleri wants his burial at Arcosanti to go off without a hitch, and Clifford Hersted is clearing the narrow cattle track for pallbearers.

Hersted, Arcosanti Community Relations and Tourism coordinator, said he visited Soleri, 93, this past month at Soleri's residence in Paradise Valley and found the famous architect in good spirits and working on some new creations.

It always has been Soleri's intention to be buried next to his wife, Colly, on an isolated piece of property near Cordes Junction. The Cosanti Foundation applied in October for permission from the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors to allocate one acre of a 231-acre parcel, part of 860 total acres at Arcosanti, as a cemetery. In February, the BOS approved the request for a use permit that would allow for a second gravesite.

Colly's burial site is on the side of a hill and accessible only by foot. Hersted has been expanding and leveling a cow path up to the area, which is within view of the northeast side of Arcosanti buildings.

"He could see the gravesite from his studio and his apartment," Hersted said about Soleri's view of Colly's grave.

Mary Hoadley, treasurer of The Cosanti Foundation, said, in 1982, nothing had to be done about Colly's burial, although she was not sure what the requirements were at that time about transporting a dead body.

"Today, the whole reason for the permit process is because you're not allowed to remove a body unless it's going to a designated cemetery," she said.

The state legislature updated the Arizona Revised Statutes in 2007 to state, "a deputy local registrar or the state registrar shall provide a disposition-transit permit for internment of human remains in a cemetery only if the cemetery has been recorded in the office of the county recorder in the county where the cemetery is located."

The supervisors unanimously approved several stipulations, including a waiver of the solid screening requirement, since the plot already is circled by wire fencing to keep out wildlife.

The cost of applying for and receiving a use permit costs about $1,300, Hoadley said. The process included several meetings and attendance at the Yavapai County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Supervisors meetings. The minutes of the Jan. 9 P&Z meeting indicate an interest by commissioners in streamlining the process.

"It's quite a bit of work. It wasn't like we're trying to establish a public cemetery," Hoadley said.

She described the site as a quiet and serene location with a beautiful view. When asked whether people will want to visit Soleri's gravesite in the future, Hoadley said, "This is a final resting place, not a monument or shrine. Paolo is not into all of that. If people were to come to Arcosanti, it would be to enjoy the buildings and appreciate what we are trying to show with urban housing and open space."

In the meantime, Soleri continues to work on projects at his home and studio in Paradise Valley, Hoadley said. One project, titled Then and Now Reminders, consists of colorful collages with shapes and designs drawn from his architecture and all life forms. He also is working on lightweight concrete panels that he creates on his porch by carving the earth and making casts. He is using many of the designs and shapes that appear on the bridge abutments at the Cordes Junction interchange, some of which he designed.

"He's winding down, but still active and making the best of every day," Hoadley said.

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