Archive for July, 2010

Letter advocating preservation of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater

Posted in architecture, cities, design, Theater Bowl with tags on July 3, 2010 by architectcs

Chairman Joe Garcia
All Indian Pueblo Council

June 21, 2010

Dear Chairman Garcia,

Following the lead of the alumni of the Santa Fe Indian School, I write you to advocate the preservation of the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater.  I have been told you are a wise, compassionate and experienced leader and hope you will hear my few words in favor of the Paolo Soleri.

Lloyd Kiva New chose architect Soleri to design the amphitheater before Soleri attained the international stature he holds in our time.  It is prophetic that the amphitheater’s patron had the vision to recognize Soleri’s genius long before others saw it.  Lloyd Kiva New lived his life as an unparalleled champion of Indian arts and culture and as a cultural bridge-builder in our fragmented world..  Stewart Udall credited him as one who inspired the National Museum of the American Indian.  Soleri, at 90, is recognized as a grandfather of sustainable architecture concepts.  His idea of compact cities, integrating living and work, “Arcology”, harks back to traditional Southwest Pueblos.  Students worldwide study his work.

The SFIS campus is home to an international architectural gem.  It’s flowing, organic form is not so different from the work of Indian sculptors I see in galleries and at Indian Market in Santa Fe.  It’s steep, wrap-around seating and small stage fuse a special intimacy between performer and audience.  These qualities endear the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater to SFIS students for their ceremonies and performances and leave profound memories with alumni.  This is not mere nostalgia.  I believe the architecture  creates these feelings nurtured in memory. I have heard alumni call the place “sacred”.   Of course many in the community of Santa Fe, indeed Northern New Mexico, love the Paolo Soleri for it’s intimacy and expressive form as a concert venue.

Last Sunday I attended Stewart Udall’s memorial at the Soleri and felt again the delight emanating from this wonderful place.  Senator Tom Udall brought up the late Secretary’s friendship with Lloyd Kiva New – how it brought the Soleri to life years ago on the IAIA campus. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this positive architectural power in our time of ever more generic building.  My feeling is that the amphitheater will be an asset to the SFIS program of progressive education.  There’s a saying,  “architecture is the mother of the arts”. When I visit Chaco, or watch The Mystery of Chaco Canyon on TV, I can only believe that the expression transcends cultures.  Many schools would cry to have a building of the Paolo’s inspirational value.  Keeping the amphitheater would provide SFIS students with a vital example of artistic and architectural creativity – and stimulate some creative young souls to become architects.

With your help, we could establish a breathing period, six months or a year, during which the amphitheater’s constituencies could work out a plan and financing for its preservation.  The constituencies include the Indian School, its alumni, the Pueblo Council and Indian Peoples, the community of Santa Fe and New Mexicans and architecture lovers and students.  Lloyd Kiva New and Paolo Soleri gave a gift to the Indian School and to the world.  Please let us, with your guiding wisdom, find a way to steward this treasure for future generations.

Respectfully,

Conrad Skinner
Architect
Santa Fe, NM.

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