Wednesday, 12 December 2007

'Zabriskie Point' house - Paolo Soleri

Soleri-Zabriskie001At the end of director Michelangelo Antonioni's anti-capitalist, anti-life turkey of a film 'Zabriskie Point,' this house -- designed by architect Paolo Soleri and (like several scenes in Antonioni's film) based  on the house in Alfred Hitchcock's 'North by Northwest,' which was itself inspired by  Frank Lloyd Wright's desert houses -- this house is 'lovingly' exploded in montage as the 'climax' of the film; destroyed in balletic slow motion with "a final destructive glee." 

Why?  What does that accomplish artistically?

As a director, Antonioni was for sure an accomplished artist.  His films were honest demonstrations -- of essentially anti-life themes.  Antonioni's original ending to this film, which was the perfect culmination of his film's theme, was a shot of an airplane sky-writing the phrase "Fuck You, America," which was cut by MGM president Louis F. Polk.  

Never doubt that's what he meant this replacement scene to say -- "a series of slow-motion captures of capitalistic debris flying apart against a smoky blue background."  Never doubt that he meant it.

That's why the house needed to be so good.  Understand that, and you understand much of modern art.  Think about it.

And from the siting of the house you can begin to appreciate what it means to "integrate architecture with your site."

 Soleri-Zabriskie010 Soleri-Zabriskie007 Soleri-Zabriskie006 Soleri-Zabriskie008 Soleri-Zabriskie009 Soleri-Zabriskie002 

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  1. yes, the movie was a dog--but as a young man I couldn't see past Daria Halprin's thighs in that short dress...and the Cessna 210 painted in psychadelic patterns, because I was flying one at the time.
    What a magnificent house, though!

  2. Thanks for reminding me of it, KG.

  3. Awful, awful movie. But it had tits in it. And Pink Floyd. And if you are going to blow shit up, there's nothing better than playing Careful With That Axe, Eugene as a soundtrack accompaniment!

  4. Ha! You keep the breasts, Blair (yes, "breasts", thank you!) and I'll take Pink Floyd!

    Ha, ha, PC. :)

  5. Crikey. Hippy music and lashings of naked breasts -- and that's all it takes for you two to go to the dark side.

    So much for commitment, eh.

  6. Hormones. I blame the hormones.

  7. The house was actually designed by Hiram Hudson Benedict, a well-known Scottsdale and Cavecreek Architect in the 1950's and 60's. It was built for a man named Hovgaard, and of course a model was used for the explosion. The architect and artist Paolo Soleri was also a friend of Mr. Benedict. The landscaping was done by Lois Grace Benedict, a long-time artist and landscape artist in the valley. Just to set the record straight.

    1. Hello, I was wondering if you know the location of the house?

  8. Just for the record, the house in Zabriskie Point was actually designed by a well known AZ and CA Architect of the 50's and 60's named Hiram Hudson Benedict, and landscaped by his wife, Lois Grace Benedict; the house was built for a man named Hovgaard. Mr. Benedict also designed the Paradise Valley Raquet Club, the San Diego Yacht Club, the Half Moon Inn in San Diego, and a number of other notable buildings in the 50's and 60's. His wife, Lois, He and Paolo Soleri were old friends.

  9. Dizzy... I'm doing research on Zabriskie Point (the film) and would like to contact you about your knowledge of the house in the final scene, Hiram Hudson Benedict, and other relevant information you may have. Please contact me directly at . Thanks!!

  10. The Soleri bell assemblage in the first interior shot can lead one astray architecturally.

  11. Hello, I have been doing a research work about architecture, city and cinema in collaboration with my wife and have discovered that this house belonged to Carl Hogvard, former founder of the Research Institute of America. there´s some info at, hope it ´ll be useful as well as if you have som further info please contact me at, nowadays I live and study my PhD in the Technical University of Catalonia, in Barcelona. Regards.

  12. Thanks Dizzy and Alberto. The amount of information around about the house has increased markedly since 2007.

  13. What we see in these pictures here are NOT about the real house. They are all of the bulk built for the explosions.

  14. Does anybody need info/photos of the house? I know where it is located and can go right to it. For more info, contact me at It's a very cool house.

  15. I actually found the site where they exploded the model house here in Carefree, AZ while was visiting. Its just north east of E Camino Salida Del Sol Red (which unfortunately is in a private gated community) and just west of one of the holes in the Whisper Rock Golf Club. It seems like there is no way to access the boulders the house was built on as it is surrounded by private property and may be private property now. Supposedly, there is remnants from the explosion and charred rock there.

  16. Thanx for clarifications on the house. so beautiful; what a setting. Does anyone know if Antonioni ever wrote extensively about the making of the film. Would love to know. About settings locales techniques etc


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