– Things to See in Scottsdale: The Soleri Bridge and Plaza-
If you are down at the Scottsdale Waterfront, you will certainly come across a beautifully crafted, but functional art installation called the Soleri Bridge and Plaza. The bridge connects downtown Scottsdale with Old Town Scottsdale.
The bridge and plaza were designed by Paolo Soleri, a well-known and award-winning Italian architect who settled in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley in the 1950’s.
Paolo Soleri’s background is fascinating and varied. He got his architectural education in Italy and then came to the United States to do a fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright. He returned to Italy where developed some of his trademark design items like bronze and ceramic windbells and siltcast structures. In the mid-1950’s, he returned to Arizona and settled in Scottsdale.
One of his most significant contributions is his concept of “Arcology“ which blends architecture and ecology. This concept what drove the development of the Arcosanti community. The construction of Arcosanti began in 1970 about 70 miles outside of Phoenix. The vision for Arcosanti was a town of 5,000 people that combined a dense population base sharing and maximizing resources while having plenty of access to the natural world. Building is still taking place at Arcosanti and many students and visitors come to stay and explore the fascinating, conceptual town.
In 2008, the design for the Soleri Bridge and Plaza was approved and it debuted in 2010, when Soleri was 91. What makes this bridge so special is that Soleri had been designing bridges for over 60 years and winning awards for those designs, but this is the first bridge of his that was actually constructed.
The bridge itself is a 130 foot long, cable stay bridge. Two 64 foot pylons anchor one end with two other shorter pylons in the plaza area. Soleri’s aesthetic is represented by the fact that the bridge pylons act as a solar calendar. The 6 inch gap between them allows for a shaft of light to change with the time of day and virtually every day during the solar noon period, a shadow is cast. On the summer solstice, there is no shadow and on the winter solstice, you will find the longest shadow of the year.
The adjoining plaza is 22,000 square feet and features siltcast structures, such as the large carved decorated panels, each weighing 3,500 pounds. In addition to the panels, you will also see some of Soleri’s iconic bells. The Goldwater Bell assembly, created in 1969, decorates the plaza area and highlights some of his best work.