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The latest on the Paolo Soleri

Raffaele Elba, courtesy of Arcosanti Foundation

In June, word leaked that the Santa Fe Indian School was planning to tear down Santa Fe’s landmark Amphitheatre. Alumni and locals protested, starting an online petition and a Facebook page. Paolo Soleri himself spoke out against his namesake’s demise. Architect Bart Prince penned an essay for the Alibi decrying the demolition of the nearly half century-old structure.

News reports died out by the end of August, but what was the final verdict for the Paolo Soleri?

Yesterday, I called Edward Calabaza, spokesperson for the Santa Fe Indian School. He says plans are “in a holding pattern.” The school met with representatives of Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman. They offered to find federal resources and work something out, according to Calabaza. “We agreed not to move forward with anything.”

The school understands that there’s a need for a venue like the Paolo Soleri, he adds. But it’s been detrimental to the learning environment, he says, in that the building is deteriorating and soaking up resources that could go to students. “It’s a money pit,” he says. “It’s just an aged facility.” It will cost $4 million to refurbish and put a roof over the Paolo Soleri, he says, and an additional $900,000 in labor and ongoing maintenance.

The school will hold off on tearing down the Paolo Soleri “as long as we feel they are putting in some kind of effort to help us find some kind of solution,” Calabaza says. But he understands that it might not be at the top of the senators’ priority lists, given the economic situation and the shakeup in Congress.


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