Blog Archives

Mid-Century Marvels at Phoenix Public Library on Feb 24

[Source: City of Phoenix]

Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., will host local architect Don Ryden and Barbara Stocklin, Phoenix historic preservation officer, in a talk about the city’s new book “Midcentury Marvels: Commercial Architecture of Phoenix: 1945-1975” at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24.

Produced by the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office and Ryden Architects, Inc., the book features more than 400 images, some rare, of buildings lost and those preserved for generations to come. It highlights the work of architects Ralph Haver, Al Beadle, Bennie Gonzales and others, and the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on the architecture of Phoenix.

“Mid-Century Marvels” was published with funding provided by a Federal Historic Fund Certified Local Government Grant, The Arizona Heritage Fund and the Phoenix Historic Preservation Bond Fund.

Books will be available for purchase at the program or at

Phoenix Public Library is a system of 15 branch libraries and the Burton Barr Central Library. For more information, call 602-262-4636 or Follow us on Twitter at

Another Chance to Learn About Downtown Phoenix’s Midcentury Marvels

midmarvbook Another Chance to Learn about Phoenixs MidCentury Marvels

From the City of Phoenix:

Barbara Stocklin, Phoenix historic preservation officer, and Don Ryden, architect/author, will discuss the coffee table-style book, featuring 251 pages showcasing the architects and architecture of the post-World War II building boom in Phoenix.

Architects Ralph Haver, Al Beadle, Bennie Gonzales and many others are featured with more than 400 colorful images, some rare, of buildings lost and those preserved for generations to come. Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on the architecture of Phoenix also is highlighted.

Mid-century Marvels was produced by the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office and Ryden Architects, Inc. with funding provided by a Federal Historic Fund Certified Local Government Grant, The Arizona Heritage Fund and the Phoenix Historic Preservation Bond Fund.

Books can be purchased for $20 at the event, or the Historic Preservation Office, 200 W. Washington St., 17th floor. For more information, call 602-261-8699.


Midcentury Marvels Brown Bag Lunch in downtown Phoenix on Jan 21

[Source: City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office and]

Why just eat lunch at noontime? Why not go on a cultural journey guaranteed to open your eyes, expand your mind and stir your spirit? The “Faces of Diversity” Brown Bag Series features dynamic people telling their stories about diversity in our community — race, ethnicity, gender issues, disability awareness, religion, etc.

After several years of intensive effort (and with several grants), the City Historic Preservation Office is finally releasing its publication “Midcentury Marvels: Commercial  Architecture of Phoenix: 1945-1975.”   This is a glossy hard-back 250+ page publication with over 300 current and historic photographs telling the story of Phoenix’s post World War II rise and the commercial architectural wonders that sprung up on the Phoenix landscape during this era.   Impeccably researched, Don Ryden’s narrative squarely places our local culture in context with the global and national Modernism movements.

The book will be released for the first time at a Brown Bag Lunch and  Book Signing at 12 noon on Friday Jan. 21. A limited edition of the first printing is available for purchase for $20. First come first serve!

By the end of January 2011, the book will be available for sale online at where you can purchase it for $20 plus $4.99 shipping.  The book will also be available for sale at the $20 price at the Historic Preservation Office during regular business hours, 3rd floor, Phoenix City Hall starting January 24, 2011. All proceeds from the book sales will go to the Historic Preservation Bond Fund.

Event Details

MIDCENTURY MARVELS: Commercial Architecture of Phoenix 1945-1975

Noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21 Phoenix City Council Chambers 200 W. Jefferson St.

Don W. Ryden, AIA Barbara Stocklin, city of Phoenix historic preservation officer

The traditional styles that characterized Phoenix architecture during the early 20th century gave way to a bold new design aesthetic known as Modernism. Many of Phoenix’s most recognized buildings were constructed during this era. Don W. Ryden, AIA, and Barbara Stocklin will tell the story of the remarkable post-World War II era in Phoenix history and discuss the importance of preserving historical buildings that still remain.

This series, sponsored by the Phoenix Human Relations Commission and the city’s Equal Opportunity Department, promotes the value of cultural diversity and creates opportunities for positive exchange among diverse groups. For more information, visit

To request disability accommodations, call the Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department at 602-495-0358/voice or 602-534-1557/TTY

Park at 305 W. Washington and bring your ticket for validation and parking discount. The Light Rail stop is just steps away!

We hope to see you there with all the other Usual Suspects who are fighting hard on behalf of our city’s midcentury heritage!

Downtown Voices Coalition Minutes for August 14, 2010

Meeting held at Roosevelt Commons, 825 N. 6th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003

Attending: Kim Kasper, Tim Sprague, Suad Mahmuljin, Louisa Stark, Matt Tomb, Elise Griffin, John Saccoman, Beatrice Moore, Susan Copeland, Steve Weiss, Carol Poore, Erick Baer, Karla Grijalva, Margaret Dietrich, Jim McPherson, Reid Butler, Kate Benjamin, Sean Sweat, Bill Blauc, Tim Eigo

9:35 AM

Introductions and approval of minutes: Motion to approve Reid Butler, Second Tim Eigo, voice vote carried unanimously.


GRAND AVENUE FESTIVAL– Kate Benjamin, chair Grand Avenue Festival

September 25, 2010-All day and evening

Events include-5 stops on Historic Tour-15th Avenue/Grand area

$10.00 ticket for tour-fundraiser for Grand Avenue Merchants Association

Open Artist Studios-Trashy Sculpture Show

Evening Fashion Show Braggs Pie Factory

Oasis Motel renovation will be part of tour-hoping to start renovation in October 2010

Request for $250.00 donation by Downtown Voices Coalition to Grand Avenue Merchant Association for Grand Avenue Festival.

  • Motion to donate John Saccoman, 2nd Suad Mahmuljin, voice vote approved unanimously
  • Reid Butler will match DVC donation.


Initial stages developing nicely and she’ll be handing over preliminary soon

Carol discussed her dissertation on how Phoenix Community Alliance and Downtown Phoenix Partnership interact with other organizations in downtown-DVC is a player!

3 profound issues:

  1. Leadership changes
  2. With big projects done, street level activity and development needed
  3. Affordable and attainable housing

Erick Baer-Public funding initiatives=empty lots, Private no public funds=Grand Avenue


City asked for continuance of rezoning for parking lot. “Done Deal” says City Mgr.  David Cavazos.

10:15 am


Update Private Non-Profit Intervention Fund-Reid Butler

  • Example was given for creating new organization with capital seed money ($20 mil)
  • Phoenix-based organization intervenes and purchases older threatened buildings
  • Save money with more than advocacy, save with money!
  • Funding sources-Angles, non-profits, corporations
  • Use tax credits to finance end goal-Organization stabilizes structure, sells to preservation-     friendly developers-Or –Bank—gift building to non-profit.
  • Version of how not to do it-Grace Court


Motion to Publish DVC Minutes General Monthly Meetings to DVC website

  • Motion made by Suad Mahmuljin, Seconded by Tim Eigo, voice vote carries motion unanimously.

11:30 AM


John Saccoman, seconded by Tim Eigo, voice vote carries motion unanimously.


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Should We Save Downtown Phoenix’s Historic Knipe House?

The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission will meet to discuss the fate of the city-owned and fire-damaged Leighton G. Knipe House along Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. Commission members and staff of the Historic Preservation Office and Community & Economic Development Department (who control the site) will:

  1. Review the report findings and recommendations of local architect Bob Graham,
  2. Ask for public comment, and
  3. Discuss the feasibility and/or appropriateness of using Historic Preservation Bond funds (and other available funding) to make the needed repairs.

Fixing the fire damage, complete with new roof, is in the $100,000 range. Much more money is required to rehabilitate the structure (which would have had to be expended anyway). Options:

  1. Reconstruct the fire damage,
  2. Weather-tight the building,
  3. Hold on until the economy recovers and seek an adaptive reuse partner, or
  4. Demolish it due to cost.

Even before the recent fire (allegedly arson), the ca. 1909 Knipe House was listed on the Phoenix Historic Neighborhood Coalition‘s Most EnDangered Dozen Historic Places List. It can be rehabilitated and brought back to life to add vitality to Phoenix’s Roosevelt Arts District. Otherwise, it’ll be another empty lot.

Interested individuals are welcome to attend the meeting or submit comments and ideas in advance. To do the latter, contact Barbara Stocklin, Historic Preservation Officer, City of Phoenix, at 602-262-7468 or


Date: September 20
Time: 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Location: 125 W. Washington St.
Facebook: link

Background Links:

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Need Help Rehabing your Historic Home?

The city of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office is now accepting applications for its Exterior Rehabilitation Assistance Program.

The grant application deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010.

Photo Credit: Nick Basteien on Flickr

The program makes monies available to private property owners to complete exterior rehabilitation, repair or restoration work on historic homes continuing to serve a residential purpose. Owners of historic homes that are either in city-designated historic districts or are individually listed on the city’s historic property register are eligible to apply. The program funds critical structural stabilization, repair and rehabilitation of historic exterior features such as roofs, exterior walls, porches and windows.

The program reimburses owners on a 50/50 matching basis for pre-approved work with grant funding between $2,000 and $10,000 per project. In exchange for receiving financial assistance, the property owner agrees to sell the city a conservation easement to protect the historic character of the property’s exteriors..

The goal of the Exterior Rehabilitation Program is to promote the preservation of historic buildings through proper rehabilitation. A successful rehabilitation is one that retains, preserves and protects as much of the original historic fabric as possible. It also preserves the original character-defining architectural elements of a particular building.

For more information or to download an application, click here or call 602-261-8699. Application packages are available at the city’s Historic Preservation Office, 200 W. Washington St., 17th floor.

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Vanishing Phoenix: lost, but not forgotten


Earlier this year, one of Phoenix’s downtown hotel owners finished writing a book about the architecture the city has lost over the years.

Robert Melikian’s “Vanishing Phoenix” is an homage to an array of buildings in the city that have disappeared over the past century, from hotels such as the Bank Exchange Hotel near Washington and First streets to the old mansions that once lined East Monroe Street.

Melikian, 53, is known in the community as a supporter of historic preservation, which is evident by efforts to preserve his family’s hotel, the Hotel San Carlos.

Melikian answered questions recently about the book and his views on historic preservation:

Question: Why did you write this book?

Answer: I wanted to protect what buildings we have left.

Q: Why do you think some residents feel Phoenix lacks historic identity in its architecture?

A: It’s strongly made up of individuals coming in from other parts of the country. They mostly don’t care about local history because they’re from somewhere else.

Q: Since your book was released earlier this year, what has happened?

A: I’ve been so happy that people have just been coming in to look at the old slides (photographs of old buildings).

Q: Was there a certain building that inspired you to write?

A: The Fox West Coast Theatre on First and Washington (streets) built by S. Charles Lee (in 1930). He built an inferior one in Los Angeles that’s considered by people there a marvelous theater. We had a better one. In 1975, the city bought it. The chandeliers bought for $8,000 in the 1930s sold for $250. They (city officials) wanted to replace the theater with a bus station.

Q: Some historic buildings continue to be torn down. Some members of the community believe the Ramada Inn at Second and Fillmore streets should be protected although the city plans to raze it and build there so Arizona State University can use it to house one of its academic programs. What do you think?

A: In 1956, Marilyn Monroe opened that building. But I don’t advocate saving every historic building. If the use of that building is going to be that useful to society, then so be it.

Q: What message do you want people to take from this book?

A: History sells. People want history. Don’t look at the short-term liability (of preservation). Look at the long-term benefits.

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From light rail, metro Phoenix takes on a different look

Light rail train in downtown Phoenix (photo: Johnny Transit)

Light rail train in downtown Phoenix (photo: Johnny Transit)

[Source: Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic] — The best way to take the architectural pulse of the city is to slice it crosswise, open it up and peek inside.  And the best way to do that is to ride the light rail from end to end. It’s a Gray Line tour, without the annoying tour guide.  It’s a chance to see your city again for the first time. You sit in your seat and gawk out the window as the city passes, too fast to focus on a single building for long but perfect to soak in a general impression of the city.

For what makes up a city is the aggregate, not the individual buildings.  Too often, when we write or talk about architecture, we look at an isolated building here or there, as if they were works of art in frames, separately considered, with no relation to what surrounds it. But that isn’t how we actually experience architecture.  Instead, we live in it, walk through it, breathe its air-conditioning, seek its shade.  We move from one building to the next, drive to a third and work in a fourth.  The architecture is as much a part of our daily lives as air. Even great cities, such as New York and Paris, are more memorable for their mix than for any great masterpieces.

And it isn’t just the buildings: It’s the sum total of all the human-made environment, from office towers to street signs.  And on the light rail, you get something very like a World’s Fair Futurama ride through the bricks and mortar of the city.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Mesa teen creates metro Phoenix landmarks for Google Earth

Luhrs Center

The picture above of the Luhrs Block in downtown Phoenix is not a photograph, but a computer-generated model designed by Patrick Griffin, a 15-year-old living in Mesa, AZ.  Patrick has created a whole slew of models of other major metro Phoenix buildings for use by Google Earth fans.  To view more of Patrick’s work, click here.

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.]