Sustainable Southwest Road Trip

COME WITH US! May 12-22, 2017

A 10-Day road trip exploring the past, present and future of sustainability and finding new perspectives on how to solve the challenges facing our planet.

We’ve taken the sites and experiences of our semester field trips and rolled them into one 10-day road trip! Travel the land with a small group who are immersed in one-of-a-kind experiences where cultural ruins are juxtaposed with future ecological perspectives, native species habitats are integrated into a building’s ecosystem, and future design solutions are explored.

The summer break Road Trip— a first for Ecosa— gives students and cultural connoisseurs the chance to discover and examine a variety of design fields through an ecological lens. Your observations and experiences will show how systems thinking pulls together the human-defined design disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban, interior and graphic design in order to design with nature. We call this synthesis ecological design.



container house sustainable southwest road trip

Tour an upscale container house designed by the homeowner and Ecosa Founder and trip leader, Tony Brown, visit the amazing volcanic Sunset Crater and walk the Indian ruins of Wupatki and Wukoki before heading to historic Cameron Trading Post for the night.


Your next few days will be spent with the Hopi Tribe on their breath-taking reservation. Whether it’s discovering the sustainability practices used by Native Americans hundreds of years ago, learning about Hopi traditions in a scientific/spiritual context or taking part in actual ongoing Hopi permaculture projects, you will gain an understanding of culture and community like never before.


Visit Ecosa Institute property in Prescott’s Granite Dells to observe ecosystems and see plans for Ecosa’s application of Design With Nature principles. An overnight stop at Arcosanti demonstrates Paolo Soleri’s dream of environmental cities, and a visit to his Cosanti Foundation in Paradise Valley shows other examples of his experiments with desert architecture. Soleri’s design style will be compared to those at Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio-turned-architecture school located in Scottsdale.


Tucson’s Sonoran Desert Museum holds many examples of amazing adaptations by birds, plants, insects and animals to their desert habitat. Use of desert resources in building materials is shown at San Xavier del Bac where you’ll also examine the two cultures who built this beautiful baroque mission starting in 1783. And a full day of rainwater harvesting and water management tips and strategies gives you an idea of how sustainable living can happen in even the harshest of conditions.

ITINERARY – 15 Stops, 10 Days

Click to view our Detailed Itinerary.


Antony Brown

Antony Brown

Founder & Program Director

Ecosa Institute Founder and Program Director Antony Brown has over 40 years of experience working in sustainable architecture and urban design. During his 16-year tenure, he has attracted a number of leading architects, designers, scientists and writers to the Institute to meet with students, review their work and discuss their approach to sustainable issues. Additionally, he has received awards for his book illustrations including those in “Nature Notes” and “The Ecology of the Grand Canyon”.

Matt Turner

Matt Turner

Naturalist & Conservation Specialist

Matt Turner is a 30-year resident of Prescott, AZ and a graduate of Prescott College with a B.A. in Natural History. Matt spent much of his career working in a field setting as an ecologist and rangeland consultant for federal and state agencies and in the private sector. Currently, he works for the Central Arizona Land Trust as a conservation specialist. His love of the Southwest led him to another line of work – that of a Naturalist/Guide for Road Scholar and Natural Habitat Adventures.

Trip Map

This map identifies our road trip locations. Click on any star to see images of our destinations. Stars indicated in blue are only visited during our Ecological Design Certificate semester and not on the Southwest Road Trip. While we visit the majority of these sites during a semester we may not visit all due to circumstances beyond our control.


This one-of-a-kind journey through America’s Sustainable Southwest allows the examination of social, ethical and economic issues affecting communities and influencing design choices. You will be allowed access to cultures and communities, participate in hands-on projects, observe ongoing efforts in sustainable design, learn about water harvesting in the desert and study natural habitats and species. Join us for a unique road trip whose backdrop is the breath-taking scenery of Arizona, from Hopi Land in the north to the Sonoran Desert in the south.


If you are deciding what area of studies to pursue, looking to change direction, want to add ecological and sustainable expertise to your design arsenal, or want a glimpse of what an Ecosa semester is all about, this trip is for you!

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