Noted Arizona architect Gonzales dies at 84

A native Arizonan, Bennie Gonzales gained a national reputation for his Southwestern style architecture (photo source: Stories of Arizona, KAET)

[Source: Kate Nolan, Arizona Republic] — Bennie M. Gonzales, an award-winning Arizona architect who designed most of Scottsdale’s downtown municipal buildings and invented a new style of widely copied Southwestern architecture, has died at age 84 in Nogales.  Gonzales created Scottsdale’s main library, city hall, and the buildings of the city’s art complex at the opposite end of Civic Center Plaza.  In addition to hundreds of homes, public buildings, and multi-family residences in Arizona and around the world, he designed a $1.5 billion residence for a Saudi Arabia king…  “He (Gonzales) was an overlooked giant among architects of our generation in this Valley,” said internationally recognized Phoenix architect Will Bruder, who designed the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix.

Gonzales’ peak was in the 1960s and ’70s with the Scottsdale city projects, which spawned numerous imitations.  A signature of Gonzales’ work is its lack of 90-degree angles.  He favored much wider angles that opened up space, said Scottsdale architect and former council member David Ortega, who began his career with Gonzales.  “He also really respected the context of where we were working,” Ortega said, citing the hospital Gonzales designed for the Navajo Nation in Chinle.

“Bennie was steadfast that the design fit with the culture.  He used a Navajo blanket motif and a westward hogan entrance,” Ortega said.  The cultural elements and the broad angles produced a decidedly Southwestern style of architecture.  “We knew we were in Arizona,” Ortega said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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