Arcosanti Foundation

Arcosanti Foundation

It may not look like much, but this little electrical breaker box represents a major gift to The Cosanti Foundation, and one that will have a huge impact for our Cosanti Originals ceramics studio, where we make our world-famous bells and tiles. It also represents the growing relationship between The Cosanti Foundation and The School of Architecture (TSOA; formerly the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture), which moved from Taliesin to Arcosanti two years ago. Last but not least, it represents an exciting new direction for The Cosanti Foundation’s philanthropy program, which now includes business and corporate giving.

Last summer, Kim Hurtado arrived at Arcosanti as part of the faculty for The School of Architecture’s fall term. An attorney by profession, Kim specializes in construction and real estate law and teaches the contracts class for TSOA’s budding architects. She’s especially attuned to the way small elements of architecture and infrastructure can make a major difference. As a lawyer, she often deals with versions of that equation that have gone wrong, so she and her law firm, Hurtado Zimmerman SC, use philanthropy to do the opposite and create positive impacts for nonprofits in Wisconsin (where they’re based) and now in Arizona, too. 

Says Kim: “I had the privilege of teaching at Arcosanti last fall and really got a chance to see the entire campus. The ceramics bells folks generously allowed me to explore making bells with them, so I made a bell, and a ceramic cover for a light fixture in the Music Center, where I was staying. I had the time of my life. The people there are wonderful, excellent, kind, gentle teachers. When I asked them ‘what would you do if you could do anything that would help improve what you do all day,’ they told me right away: wiring for a new kiln to expand and stabilize production capacity. To me, this gift was a repaying of kindness, and a way of helping Arcosanti—and these artists—to grow their beautiful work.”

As luck would have it, the kiln itself had already been selected, but as a 50-year-old experimental architectural project, Arcosanti’s original wiring wouldn’t suffice. Vickie Mayer, who was at the time the General Manager for Cosanti Originals, explains: “We could afford the kiln, but without this gift, we couldn’t have connected it.”

The wiring installation this gift funded was overseen by Arcosanti’s site electrician Michael Bittman, a.k.a. Doctor Sparks: “Arcosanti can be unique in a lot of ways, including these old electrical systems. That’s where you don’t want to be unique! This is a million times better.” 

Once the work was complete and the new kiln was fully installed, the effects were immediate. The ceramics team—Heath, Ana, Maitri, Angie, and Linda (see photos attached)—has been able to speed up the rate at which bells are fired and finished, meeting ever-increasing demand for these unique works of art. They’ve also been able to once again offer their public bell-carving workshops (see photo attached). This spring, they once again worked with Kim and with Archie Kinney, a third-year student about to complete his MArch with The School of Architecture One, to manufacture special ceramic pieces for his thesis project. 

Moreover, while the primary purpose of this unique gift centered on electrical improvements to our iconic Ceramics Apse, some of the funds have also been used to upgrade the electrical grid in The Cosanti Foundation’s main office. This space now additionally doubles as the main studio space for The School of Architecture, meaning there is a lot more demand on the building’s grid to support additional computers, printers, 3D modeling, and more. The enhancement made possible by Hurtado Zimmerman SC’s donation allowed us to complete the half-year renovation of this multi-story very-mixed-use space, which also serves as the hub for all of the internet technology at Arcosanti, in addition to containing a greenhouse as well as several apartments, including being home to The Cosanti Foundation & Cosanti Originals’ CEO & Executive Director Liz Martin-Malikian.

Thank you, Kim and Hurtado Zimmerman SC—it takes a special kind of donor to see a need like this and want to help. Productivity in our main office is at a peak, and because the sale of the tiles, bells, and other items produced by the artisans of Cosanti Originals additionally helps to fund The Cosanti Foundation’s mission-driven programs and projects, expanding our capacity to produce these items means the impact of Hurtado Zimmerman SC’s contribution is magnified even further. Your thoughtful generosity is already making a difference at Arcosanti that will last for years to come! 

The Cosanti Foundation is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit. Our mission is to inspire a reimagined urbanism that builds resilient and equitable communities sustainably integrated with the natural world. We are honored to receive this generative donation from Hurtado Zimmerman SC, and we hope it will inspire other people and companies to consider ways to support our projects and other nonprofits through similar tax-deductible contributions. For more information about individual and business philanthropy opportunities with The Cosanti Foundation, please contact Director of Development & Communication Kate Bemesderfer,