The Sprawled Desert City of Phoenix Sets Sights on Walkability

Light Rail crossing Tempe Town Lake. Image © CC Flickr User Alan Stark

When the profit-driven bulldozing of virgin desert quickly transformed into unfinished ghost towns in 2008, the city of Phoenix, , reset their sights on a more sustainable and desirable way of living: walkable communities. With the establishment of the city’s first light rail, the once car-centric communities of its urban core have turned into swaths of pedestrian havens. This has not only improved the city’s desirability, but has also been good for business. See how else Phoenix is trying to “pull off an urban miracle” and reverse it’s sprawled image here on Fast Company.

Phoenix Determined to Build BIG Pin

©

Although Arizona developer Novawest was determined to build BIG’s 420-foot observation tower in downtown before the 2015 Super Bowl, failed negotiations has left them without a site. Once planned for the interior courtyard of the Arizona Science Center, the privately-funded project is now being considered for an undisclosed downtown site with completion rescheduled for 2016. Considering the project has received a considerable amount of support from city officials, it seems inevitable that the BIG pin will eventually be built despite harsh criticism from nearby residents. Modifications for the new site will be minimal. You can review the design here

Harboe Architects Selected to Create Preservation Master Plan for Taliesin West

AD Classics: / Frank Lloyd Wright. Image © Flickr User: lumierefl

Chicago-based Harboe Architects has been chosen by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to construct a master plan for Taliesin West, which will guide future restoration and conservation efforts for the prized National Historic Landmark. Built in Scottsdale, Arizona, by the hands of the architect himself, alongside his apprentices between 1937 and 1959, the desert landmark served as the winter home, studio and school of Frank Lloyd Wright. Read and relive the story of Taliesin West here on ArchDaily.

AIA Women’s Leadership Summit 2013

Courtesy of AIA

Taking place October 24-26 at the Phoenix Art Museum, the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit 2013 consists of a 2-day, 5 to 6 session event that gathers voices of architects serving in various leadership roles, including, principals, educators, owners, designers, environmentalists and innovators, in an intimate setting to discuss the challenges and opportunities for women practicing architecture today. The Summit strives to engage speakers and attendees in an open, conversational setting to share both personal and work experiences toward positive contributions through the practice of architecture. To register, and for more information, please visit here.

The Dome in the Desert by Wendell Burnette

The Dome in its Sonoran Desert landscape. © 1985 Julius Shulman

This article, written by -based architect Wendell Burnette of Architects, recounts the story of Paolo Soleri’s ‘The Dome’ in the desert. 

A glass house in the desert? Was it an architectural caprice, a folly, or was it a solution to the problems of desert living whose appropriateness is still not recognized? Having had the experience of living in The Dome for a full year, through all the seasons, I felt it incumbent upon myself to take a fresh look at this remarkable work of architecture.

Paolo Soleri, its designer, was born in 1920 in Turin, received a PhD in architecture from the Torino Politecnico, and in 1947 came to America to study with Frank Lloyd Wright, remaining with him for just over a year. Mark Mills, who assisted Soleri in the construction of The Dome, was born in 1921, received an architectural engineering degree from the University of Colorado, and studied with Wright for four years. It was at Taliesin that Soleri and Mills became friends. In 1948, when they and two other apprentices were working on an experimental structure at Taliesin West, which became what is known as the Sun Cottage, there was a misunderstanding with Wright that led to all four of them leaving. Soleri and Mills went to work with a developer, providing design work for some condominiums at the base of Camelback Mountain, below the north face in Paradise Valley. Soleri developed a scheme that involved a tower element supporting a hex form canopy and he and Mills built a mockup of Camelback out of concrete block and wood. It was shortly after this that “the Cli,” as she was fondly called, came along.

The complete article after the break…

Remembering Paolo Soleri 1919-2013

© www.arcosanti.org

Today the world has lost one of its great minds. Paolo Soleri, architect, builder, artist, writer, theorist, husband, father, born on Summer Solstice, June 21, 1919, has died at age 93.

Paolo Soleri spent a lifetime investigating how architecture, specifically the architecture of the city, could support the countless possibilities of human aspiration. The urban project he founded, Arcosanti, 65 miles north of , was described by NEWSWEEK magazine as “…the most important urban experiment undertaken in our lifetimes.”

His own lifetime of work is represented in models, drawings, books, lectures and museum exhibits throughout the world. Soleri’s exhibition in 1970 at the Corcoran Museum in Washington DC – and the concurrent publication of his landmark book, CITY IN THE IMAGE OF MAN – changed forever the global conversation about urban planning on our living planet. His term, “Arcology” joining the words architecture and ecology to represent one whole system of understanding human life on the earth is meant to serve as the basis for that conversation.

More on the life of Paolo Soleri after the break…

Dialogue House / Wendell Burnette Architects

© Bill Timmerman

Architects: Wendell Burnette Architects
Project Team: , Christopher Alt
Client: Thomas and Laura Hyland
Structural Engineer: Rudow + Berry, Inc.
Electrical Engineer: C.A. Energy Designs
Landscape Design: Debra Burnette Landscape Design
Contractor: The Construction Zone, Ltd.
Area: 2,700 ft2
Year: 2012
Photographs: Bill Timmerman

Levin Residence / Ibarra Rosano Design Architects

© Bill Timmerman

Architects: Ibarra Rosano Design Architects
Location: Marana, Arizona,
Design Team: Luis Ibarra, Teresa Rosano, Jennifer Martin
Area: 3,520 sqft
Year: 2009
Photographs: Bill Timmerman

Anonymous Benefactor Saves the David and Gladys Wright House

Courtesy of Time, Inc. via the News Blog

Christmas has come early for the international community of architects and preservationists, as an anonymous benefactor has saved the endangered David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, Arizona. Culminating a six month saga, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy is proud to announce that it has facilitated the purchase of the historic property through an LLC owned by an anonymous benefactor. The transaction closed today, December 20, and is no longer a demolition threat.

The Wright home will now be transferred to the hands of an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the structure. The change in ownership guarantees the house will survive and be preserved. Landmark status is expected to follow shortly.

More information on the David Wright House after the break…

South Mountain Community Library / Richärd+Bauer

© Bill Timmerman

Architect: Richärd+Bauer
Location: , Arizona
Client: Maricopa County Community Colleges District, City of Phoenix
Size: 54,600 sf
Cost: 16.3M
Completion Date: August 2011
Photography: Bill Timmerman, Mark Boisclair Photography

Perspectives: The David Wright House

‘Perspectives: The David Wright House’ will be hosted by ASU on November 5, 2012

On November 5, the Design School at Arizona State University will be hosting a panel discussion centered around the David Wright House and the question of architectural in the city of Phoenix. Speakers will include Burton Barr Central Library architect , The Design School’s director, and more. The conversation will touch on efforts have been underway over the last three months in Arizona to preserve the David Wright House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “ most innovative, unusual and personal works of architecture,” from demolition by developers.

The Latest in the Wright House Demolition Saga: The Developers Tell Their Side

Courtesy of Curbd LA

The David Wright House, a hidden gem that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his son, still stands, but its fate remains precarious.

On October 9th, the  Planning Commission met to discuss the proposed landmark designation for the house, an event which attracted over 100 people. According to The New York Times, only 3 people voted against the designation, including the house’s current owners, the developers of 8081 Meridian, John Hoffman and Steve Sells.

When the pair bought the house back in June for only $1.8 million (from the pair the Wright’s granddaughters had sold the house to for $2.8 million), they thought it was “too good to be true.” The property alone could make up to $1.4 million; the pair hoped that by splitting the lot they could make even more.

Unfortunately however, Mr. Sells had no idea of the house’s architectural significance. As he told The New York Times, he didn’t know the difference “between Frank Lloyd Wright and the Wright brothers. ”

More on the Developers’ side of this demolition tale, after the break…

Lighthouse for the Dutchman / Urban Playground

Courtesy of

Designed by Urban Playground, the ‘Lighthouse for the Dutchman’ project was proposed for the chapel at the entry of the Los Dutchman State Park in Phoenix, . Through a rearrangement of an embryological, mathematical reference known as “Shrek’s Surface”, spatial varieties are derived as a way to alter the combined experiences of both the spiritual and natural environment in the desert. The prototypical, curved surface is morphed and manipulated, creating contextual and functional relationships that are then translated into a series of parameters for the building’s morphology. More images and architects’ description after the break.

University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus / Cannon Design + CDG Architects

© Timothy Hursley

Architects: Cannon Design, CDG Architects
Location: ,
Principal in Charge: Michael J. Smith
Project Director: Beth Radovanovich
Lead Designer: Carl Hampson
Project Manager: James Pricco
Photographs: Timothy Hursley, Bill Timmerman

‘Peritoneum’ Shade Structure / Arizona State University Student Team

© Tim Trumble, Dian (Woodia) Yu, Anna Christy

Designed and built by a very talented student team at Arizona State University, the Peritoneum shade structure reflects their collaboration and interdisciplinary skills as they employed their respective talents for this temporary shade structure. Originally built on a plaza space on the university campus, the project was recently moved to be displayed in a major art district in downtown along Roosevelt Row. The design, which won the ASLA Student Award of Excellence 2012, is an undulating blue structure that evokes a calming, cooling environment, and captivates others by its daring interpretation of typical shade structures. More images and the students’ description after the break.

Video: The late Pedro E. Guerrero speaking at the Julius Shulman Institute

Last April, we announced the opening of Pedro E. Guerrero: Photographs of Modern Life – a retrospective exhibition organized by the Julius Shulman Institute (JSI) at Woodbury University that honored the incredible life and career of the great 20th century architectural photographer, Pedro E. Guerrero (1917-2012). JSI was thankful to have Guerrero join the exhibition’s opening night, where he entertained the crowd with his charismatic personality as he shared fascinating stories from his life.

Sadly, the world is still in mourning over Guerrero’s passing last week, as he died at the age of 95 on Thursday, September 13, 2012, at his home in Florence, Arizona.

Woodbury University and the Julius Shulman Institute would like to share a few words from JSI director Emily Bills:

“The Julius Shulman Institute is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of . We were honored to host a retrospective of his work last April, which included the lively, and often hilarious, conversation he shared with Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. Guerrero will be remembered as one of the great architectural photographers of the twentieth century, capturing the essence of work by , Edward Durell Stone, Marcel Breuer, Joseph P. Salerno, and many others. He will be dearly missed.”

Read Guerrero’s obituary in the New York Times and the LA Times to learn more about his epic life and career. Continue after the break to view some of his best photographs that were featured at the exhibition. 

Burton Barr Central Library / bruderDWLarchitects

© Bill Timmerman

The Phoenix Central Library stands as an iconic structure that straddles Interstate 10 as it passes through the Margaret T. Hance Deck Park Tunnel in Phoenix, . Designed by bruderDWLarchitects, the contract was awarded in 1989 and the project completed in 1995 to house an expansive volume collection of 1,000,000 within 280,000 square feet, it has also served as a catalyst to the local community and fostered a sense of pride. It features numerous details that enhance the overall user experience and incorporates strategic building tactics that respond to the harsh Sonoran Desert. More details after the break.

will bruder+PARTNERS Splits into Two

Agave Library / © Bill Timmerman

Starting today, one of Arizona’s most well-known architecture firms will no longer be will bruder+PARTNERS. After a successful 17-year history, the practice has branched into two independent firms with diverse architectural offerings due to a “natural evolution of individual and collective goals relating to firm size, design methodology and management.” Together, the internationally respected firm has created landmark buildings throughout the state, including projects such as the Burton Barr Library and the Agave Library. And now, each will go their separate ways as the firm has split into Will Bruder Architects and WORKSBUREAU.

Continue after the break to learn more about each firm.