Cities x Design is a 35-city trans-media research trip across the United States that is recorded online and will later be released in film, exhibition, and book form. Their fifth stop was Phoenix. Visit their website to learn more about their trip, express your opinion on your favorite metro Phoenix sites, and view pictures of places they visited here and along the way to their next stop, San Diego.
[Source: Robrt L. Pela, Phoenix New Times] — In Jason Hill’s Phoenix, the sun never sets. His paintings of the city — a vibrant Valley National Bank framed by a glowing sky; a dazzling Financial Center with a jet jauntily speeding past — are thousand-watt, high-color beacons that send the same, simple, not-so-subliminal message: Phoenix is cool. Come see for yourself.
Laura Spalding’s paintings are more roundabout celebrations of our town. Onto old Arizona license plates and tin trays, she paints skies cluttered with telephone poles and electrical wires. Her cityscapes are testimonies to how amazing it is that Phoenix sprang up in the desert in the first place; homages to how it survived to become a prosperous, distinctive destination.
Georganne Bryant’s message is less subtle. Onto black, cotton T-shirts that she sells at her midtown boutique, she has had a local T-shirt artist silk-screen this legend: Love Phoenix or Leave Phoenix.
Something has shifted. Hill and Spalding and Bryant and dozens of others like them are having a public love affair with Phoenix. They’re opening cafes and launching Web sites and creating art that speaks of their pride in a city that most of us have gotten pretty good at mocking. Many of these folks would have us believe — and, perhaps, want to believe themselves — that we, the country’s fifth-largest city, have finally arrived. That Phoenix has at last, after decades of false starts and near misses, awakened from a slumber that lasted way too long. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
Kathy Adams and Lori Feinman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation flew into town last week to view Phoenix’s convention facilities; tour selected historic sites and neighborhoods in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe; and visit with area preservation advocates to determine Phoenix’s ability to host the 2012 National Preservation Conference. Meeting them at Sky Harbor was Sally Forrest, National Accounts Director for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The three lunched at the Hotel Valley Ho, one of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America, and then drove to downtown Phoenix to tour the Phoenix Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency and Wyndham hotels (two of the host hotels), and Orpheum Theatre. Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer, and Jim McPherson, Arizona Advisor to the National Trust, joined them for dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub in Heritage Square Park (a large outdoor venue that could serve as the opening reception for the 2,500-plus attendees of the 2012 conference).
On Tuesday, Adams and Feinman started off the day by visiting the historic San Carlos Hotel and breakfast at Palette in the Roosevelt Historic District. Then it was a “timed-to-the minute” whirlwind van tour of First Presbyterian Church, Security Building (and ASU’s PURL overlooking the city), Monroe School (Children’s Museum of Phoenix), Phoenix Union High School Buildings (University of Arizona College of Medicine), Steele Indian School Park, Heard Museum, and several midtown residential historic districts.
State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison and Modern Phoenix Founder Alison King joined the group for lunch and tour of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. Then it was off to drive by the Wrigley Mansion, and visit the Desert Botanical Garden, Gammage Auditorium, Pueblo Grande National Historic Landmark, and St. Mary’s Basilica. Special guests “popped in” throughout the day to say hello, provide their perspective on preservation, and tout Phoenix as a conference site: Attorney General Terry Goddard (Palette), State Senator Debbie McCune Davis (UA College of Medicine), City of Phoenix Council Member Greg Stanton (Children’s Museum), attorney Grady Gammage (Gammage Auditorium), former Phoenix mayor John Driggs, and Arizona 2012 Centennial director Karen Churchard.
Topping off the visit was a reception at the Ellis Shackelford House in downtown Phoenix. Over 60 preservation advocates from all over the Valley (and Sierra Vista!), city officials, and downtown business group leaders attended. A balloon arch, special signage, decorations, and flowers in the colors of Arizona’s state flag welcomed our guests from the National Trust. City of Phoenix Council Member Michael Nowakowski, Garrison, Stocklin, Feinman, and McPherson said a few words, and the rest of the evening was spent enjoying each other’s company and dining on wonderful hors d’oeuvres from Catered by St. Joseph’s. Gift bags courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office and City of Phoenix were presented to Adams and Feinman, and each attendee received a small gift as well.
Pick up a copy of this month’s 944 Magazine Architecture + Design issue where you can read the editorial of Alison King, Founder of Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network, about adaptive reuse in metro Phoenix. One Oxford English Dictionary word you won’t read: “sustainability” — although the entire article is about it. If you can’t find a copy around town, read the online version (click on Phoenix; then head to page 65).