Blog Archives

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!

“Results we can see.”

IMG00112Hmmm… We’re guessing these aren’t results Councilman Tom Simplot wants to see.  Campaign sign in foreground; midtown Phoenix development project lying fallow in the background.

NEWSFLASH!  Between last night and this morning, the sign has been taken down.

Phoenix “mid-century marvels” mapped

Phoenix experienced unprecedented growth just after the Second World War.  With this growth came new architecture in the form of offices, banks, stores and government buildings, to name a few.  These buildings are disappearing from the landscape.  

The Phoenix Historic Preservation Office is embarking on a survey and designation project of postwar architecture.  The project will document the best examples of the period and bring attention to their significance.

Eligible buildings will be placed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register and the National Register of Historic Places.  The Historic Buildings Photography Project, completed by Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture in cooperation with the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office, presents a selection of 25 buildings and sites that represent Phoenix’s postwar architectural heritage.  To download the Mid-Century Marvel brochure, click here.

“Icons of Phoenix” premieres March 6


Local artist Jason Hill will premiere “Icons of Phoenix,” his latest series of handcrafted prints during Art Detour in March at Practical Art in Phoenix.  View Jason Hill’s new hand-printed silkscreen editions of iconic architectural landmarks in Phoenix, including Arcosanti, Taliesin West, Luhrs Tower, Westward Ho, Security Building, Rosson House, Hanny’s, Phoenix Towers, and the Phoenix Financial Center. Each image will be available in signed & numbered editions of five, printed with pearlescent pigments on 21″ x 17″ 80 lb. Neenah Environment paper.

A reception for the artist will be held Friday, March 6, 2009, beginning at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.  The event is free and open to the public.  No RSVPs are necessary.  The exhibition will continue until March 31.  Practical Art is located at 5070 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix, just a block and a half north of Camelback. During this show, Practical Art will be a stop on the annual Art Detour route, March 6 -8, 2009, sponsored by ArtLink.

Phoenix modern architecture: the danger of success

[Source: Linnea O’Dowd, LEED AP, Associate AIA, Guest Columnist, Southwest Contractor] — Phoenix is in danger.  We are in danger of finally achieving an aesthetic many of us in the design community have longed for, an aesthetic built on the brilliant tenets of modernism.  A lack of built history, no surviving historic vernacular, and an overabundance of cheap land and labor give local architects and designers an incredible array of design options, yet our reputation for cutting edge design continues to diminish.  Our Phoenix design aesthetic has become modern without meaning, not McMansion but McModern.

Exposed emotionless grey block, crumbling remnants of gabion walls, identical weathered steel and river rock accents: does anyone else notice the ubiquitousness of the various building materials, the loss of craftsmanship, the absence of inventiveness and imagination?  We are missing the intimate detailing which made Modernism so incredibly radical and beautiful.  For our desert modernism to go beyond style, we must stop denying why we build, we build for human expression, for ourselves and for our neighbors.

From within the design community, we scoff at the Tuscan or Olde Worlde, for all its frills and ornamentation.  Yet if we cannot fulfill our commitments, as designers, to build with a craft approach and to convey a sensory delight in materials, using structural ingenuity and inspired experiential design solutions, then as Modernists and as architects, we have failed.  We cannot blame the Tuscan invasion on anyone but ourselves.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix mid-century landmark to be demolished for boomer retirement home

Mountain Bell/Qwest Building, photo by Arizona Republic[Source: Eugene Scott, Arizona Republic, June 24, 2008] — Retired Valley residents interested in living the good life in midtown Phoenix may be able to move forward in that direction this year.  If all goes as planned, the old Mountain Bell Plaza building, 3033 N. Third St., will be torn down in the fall to be replaced by a retirement community.

By Dec. 1, a San Diego-based developer plans to open a sales office for luxury townhouses, condominiums, and apartments.  Montage Senior Living will be “a very high-end, five-star retirement living community” on nine acres, developer Joe Pinsonneault said.  Units could start at $600,000 and could be as much as $2.5 million, Pinsonneault said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Get your copy of Phoenix mid-century postcard booklet

Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Michael Lundgren)

[Source: Desert Living Magazine] — Family and friends think you’ve forgotten about them because you never send postcards when the reality is you’ve just never found a cool enough postcard to send … until now.  The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program has created a Historic Building Photography Project book with 20 postcards displaying great mid-century architecture captured by photographer Michael Lundgren.  Each building is explained on back with details that include architectural features, year built, and more.  These books are free and can be picked up at the City of Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture at 200 W. Washington St., 10th Floor; and the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office, same address, 17th Floor.  More at

Modern Phoenix Home Tour & Expo, April 5-6

Join Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network for the only home tour and expo devoted to helping Phoenicians reshape and riff off the historic Modern lifestyle.  Co-hosted by The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, this event is devoted exclusively to highlighting postwar achitecture, design, landscape, and interiors as they inevitably collide with today’s lifestyle and needs.  Click here for more information and to register.

City to conduct 2nd survey of MCM commercial architecture

City of Phoenix Mid-Century Marvels brochureThe City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office has executed a contract with Don Ryden Architects to complete a survey of post World War II Phoenix commercial architecture. The consultant is slated to complete the survey and to produce a highly pictorial publication by December 2008.  The Historic Preservation Office is seeking grants and outside funding to print large quantities of the all-color book for public dissemination.

If you have questions, contact Barbara Stocklin, Historic Preservation Officer, City of Phoenix, by phone (602-262-7468) or e-mail.

To download a PDF of the City’s 2007 “Mid-Century Marvels: Modern Architecture in Phoenix” brochure, pictured at right, click here

Developer to demolish Beadle building for boomer condos

Al Beadle designed Mountain Bell/Qwest building.  Photo source: Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic.[Source: Eugene Scott, Arizona Republic] — A San Diego-based developer hopes to bring luxury townhouses, condominiums, and apartments to North Third Street, near Thomas Road.  “The plan is to develop a very high-end, five-star retirement living community on that 9-acre piece of land,” said Joe Pinsonneault, developer of Montage Senior Living.

The project would replace the old Mountain Bell Plaza building [designed by noted local architect Al Beadle], which will be torn down, and feature independent living and retirement facilities.  Qwest sold the building in 2003.  Developers have been working on the 690-unit project for three years and said central Phoenix needs this type of project.  It’s aimed at baby boomers hoping to retire in Phoenix. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]