Daily Archives: October 30, 2008

Phoenix’s “Endless Lofts”

We’re in a spoofing mood, so bear with us as we offer up the short video above made a few years back.  The “3rd Annual Downtown Phoenix Loft & Home Tour” is coming up Saturday, November 1.  Well, it’s really just a tour of rather expensive lofts…not that there’s anything wrong with that.  No neighborhoods with actual house-like homes (like Capitol Mall, Coronado, F.Q. Story, Garfield, Roosevelt, or Willo) are included.  And that’s an opportunity lost on telling the fuller story of living in and around downtown Phoenix.

The loft tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and free shuttles will circulate the tour route through the day for easy transportation.  Tour admission is $8 in advance or $10 the day of the tour.  Everybody must check in at 5th Street between Roosevelt and Garfield to get your wristband and tour book.  Destinations on the tour include: 44 Monroe, 215 E. McKinley, Century Plaza, Chester Place, Portland 2, Portland 38, and The Summit at Copper Square.  For more information (including the possibility for free tickets), click here.

3 must-see Phoenix galleries on First Friday, Nov. 7

[Source: Richard Ruelas, Arizona Republic] — Check out this guide to downtown Phoenix’s First Friday art scene:

The Alwun House.   This downtown-arts pioneer opened in 1971, 18 years before the first Art Detour (big brother to First Fridays).  A mile or so east of Roosevelt Row, it’s an unabashedly hippieish gallery in a historical house, complete with outdoor stages for live entertainment as well as resident pets (doves, rabbits and a sweetheart of a Doberman). Details: The Alwun House, 1204 E. Roosevelt St., 602-253-7887, website.

Bentley Projects.  This cavernous brick building once was a linen laundry, and the owners didn’t plaster over that historical character in creating this high-end gallery packed with large-scale works by nationally known artists.  This isn’t for bargain shoppers; instead, it’s the kind of gallery that rich collectors fly out to in order to buy pieces priced in the five- to six-figure range. However, it’s a friendly place with enough diverse, quality work to compare favorably with an art museum. Call first to make sure it’s open. Details: Bentley Projects, 215 E. Grant St., 602-340-9200, website.

Garfield Galleria.  You can spend an entire evening and not see everything at this single building bursting with more than two dozen galleries and studios.  This is real something-for-everyone territory, whether you’re looking for fine art, homey crafts, student work, risque alternative art or flashy jewelry.  Details: Garfield Galleria, 316 W. McDowell Road, 602-349-3049, website.

[Editor’s Note: Here’s one more!  “Lost Vegas: Color Photography 1985-2007 by Steve Weiss/Candid Landscapes” opens First Friday, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Details: The Lodge, 1231 SW Grand Ave. (corner 13th Ave. and Grand), 602-265-9524, website.]

The city of Phoenix runs free shuttles that stop at gallery areas, including Grand Avenue and Roosevelt Row.  If you’re not a good urban parker or just don’t want the hassle of finding a street spot, drop your car off at Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., and hop onboard.  Once you explore one area, wave down a shuttle to take you back to the library. Then hop on a different shuttle to head to another area.  For a shuttle map and more information about First Fridays, call 602-256-7539 or visit their website.

Opinions vary on shade capabilities of Phoenix light rail stations

[Source: Ron Sanzone, Arizona Republic] — Valley Metro light rail is incorporating three elements into a shading system it hopes will keep light-rail passengers comfortable at its stations as they await trains.  But public opinion differs about the shading system.  Two individuals involved in downtown planning efforts provide their perspectives:

Mike James, architect involved in Metro’s station planning

Dan Hoffman, professor of architecture at Arizona State University

The three-layered shading system was the best of five designs presented by teams of architects to Metro, in part because it blocks reflective heat that comes off the asphalt on nearby streets.  Here’s how each system element works:


  • Canopies.  A series of angled overhead canopies made of tensile material will shade the waiting areas of station platforms throughout much of the day. Unlike most other materials, the temperature of the tensile fabric will not heat up beyond the surrounding air temperature, a key to keeping the areas underneath it cooler.  Aesthetically designed to resemble birds in flight, the canopies are “a signature look that is unique to Phoenix.”
  • Vertical shades.  Also referred to as louvers, these shades fill in the coverage gaps left by the canopies during early-morning and late-afternoon hours.  Slanted downward and upward at 30-degree angles, the shades have the appearance of open sets of blinds.  Metro decided against a solid opaque design because local businesses wanted to be fully visible from stations and neighbors wanted to be able to keep an eye on station platforms for security reasons.
  • Green screens.  Located at most stations, these trellises are vertical metal cages that will be covered with vines.  They will provide the station with additional shade and a small amount of moisture produced by plants.

 To provide additional relief, each station will feature a drinking fountain, a canopy of three to six trees, and paint that does not heat up covering the metal areas that might be touched by passengers.

Q: What do you think of the shading design Metro is using for its stations?  How effective will it be?

A: It’s not optimum, but it does perform at a basic level.  The canopies are made of white cloth, which is good because they reflect a lot of the heat, though the edge of cloth is up high and would provide more shade if it were lower.  Their solution was not optimal but was sufficient.

Q: Are there any problems you see or concerns you have with the design of the stations?

A: There are aspects that are good, such as the shade cloth.  I like the dynamic utilities.  I don’t think it’s the most efficient design possible.  It does provide the basics, but doesn’t provide the highest quality design-wise.  What was chosen was good, not great, and sufficient, not optimal.

Q: What could have been improved?

A: The actual steel structure, which is expensive, could have been done in a more elegant and simple way.  It’s flamboyant.  Moisture and plantings would improve it and cool it down more, but that would have required more money.