What if?: collected writings 1986-2000

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Berkeley Hills Books, 2002 - Architecture - 370 pages
Including 35 previously unpublished essays, What If? represents the mature thought of one of the 20th centurys most provocative architects. Accompanying the text is an extensive four-color commentary by the author that expands on, and often challenges, his arguments. A detailed glossary explores such essential Soleri concepts as miniaturization, frugality, esthequity, and the much-discussed Urban Effect.

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On the eve of Soleri's 90th birthday, he is quite simply the nation's and the world's premier philosopher, and the first great mind of the third millennium. This is a work of visionary poetry about universal history. Paolo in a sense represents a bridge between the synthetic masters of 19th century European thought and the dawn of our own recovery from specialization, just as his prophecy moves building from the detour of sprawl and its electronic equivalent to the face to face immediacy of sustainable compact towns and a culture of presence and engagement.
It is my belief that what Soleri says is irrefutable, and what he envisions as the built environment is inevitable. Paolo has the ascetic temperment of a monastic, and the intellectual's revulsion at materialism. (I will expand in another forum on the proposition that he is the successor to Plotinus.) What his vision offers instead is wealth of unimaginable dimension, and a liberation heretofore unknown on earth. To grasp even a fragment of what this book contains is to know the only thing that human beings must know now. The industrial revolution, the information age, are but faint harbingers of the radiance ahead. Grab hold of Soleri's vision by choice or by necessity and join us in this adventure, those are the two options at this seminal crossroads of cosmic development. Here is your sacred text, whose first chapter, City in the Image of Man, inaugurated the next great age of the earth.
Jack Blackwell


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