If "been there, done that" is your standard response to suggestions for weekend getaways, chances are no one has offered up an overnight stay at Arcosanti.
A limited number of guest rooms and one suite are available at this urban laboratory located about an hour north of the Valley. Founded in 1970 by Italian architect Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti was conceived as a human environment for 5,000 people on 25 acres.
Thirty years later, the project is still in the works, with volunteers from around the world participating in its physical construction while learning the philosophical aspects of arcology (architecture plus ecology).
Overnight guests don’t have to sit through a tutorial, nor are they asked to set rebar. Rather, visitors can enjoy the fruits of others while gazing up at a star-studded sky surrounded by the deafening quiet.
Ten rooms with shared facilities ($20 to $30) are available. There’s also a Sky Suite ($75) that includes two small bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchenette, a living room and a patio area. Views of Arcosanti and the 4,000-acre preserve are accessible from this suite.
According to Kelli Huth, spokesperson for Arcosanti, the guest rooms originally housed project workers. Now those volunteers are sheltered in the canyon camp.
"When we have events the rooms are usually booked for the musicians," Huth said. Upcoming events include Italian Night on July 19 and a musical performance by California E.A.R. Unit on Aug. 16.
Camping is allowed for $5 per night, but there are no RV hookups.
Arcosanti is located 65 miles north of Phoenix, off Interstate 17, Exit 262 (Cordes Junction). The drive takes about an hour from the East Valley.
Eating: The Cafe at Arcosanti usually provides overnight visitors three buffet meals. The continental breakfast is $4.75 per person and lunch and dinner are $7.50 per person, tax included.
Shopping: The Gallery, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, sells a variety of goods from the widely popular Soleri bells to agricultural products from the community’s farm.
Touring: Daily tours begin in the Arcosanti Gallery every hour between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; cost is $8 per person. The tour includes an introduction to Arcosanti’s history and design philosophy as well as a physical perusal of the site. Reservations for the following tours must be made two weeks in advance, and the cost is $12 per person:
• Bird watching tours through the Agua Fria Riparian Habitat are available in association with the Sonoran Audubon Society.
• Tours of the 15-acre organic garden (1 1 /2 hours) include a talk on sustainable organic food production, desert gardening techniques and an overview of local wildlife and ecosystem.
• Architectural tours (1 1 /2 to 2 hours) cover regular tour stops plus the design office and several other interiors.