Take a trip around town to explore Phoenix’s architectural history. Due to Phoenix’s expansive sprawl, you might have to drive a bit to explore, but the city and its surrounding areas are filled with a variety of different types of buildings with exciting features to learn and enjoy.
Located in Scottsdale, it serves as their public library. Built to resemble the desert slot canyons of northern Arizona and monument valley, through sharply angled walls of rust-colored steel, stone and glass, this architectural style captures the powerful and unique experience between man-made materials and earthly beauty.
The structure offers rooftop gardens, courts that open to the sky, a café, bookstore components, a children’s area, an area for teens and computer center.
Arizona Biltmore Hotel
Designed by an architect that studied directly under Frank Lloyd Wright, it opened in 1929. The most defining features are the construction of concrete block, gold leaf ceiling, the 32,500-pound copper roof and the overall geometric motif.
Asbury United Methodist Church
Since opening its doors in 1967, the Asbury United Methodist Church has become endearingly known as the “cupcake chapel.” That’s because architect Mel Ensign supposedly designed the church to resemble a crown for Jesus as well as seed from which life-baring symbols, in this case a cross, are born. Adding to the adorable factor in this pink, west Phoenix church is its size, seating only 74 guests for services presented in the round.
Located in Phoenix and established as an educational nature center for the urban Phoenix area on a brownfield site, this stark concrete, steel and glass structure is surrounded by trees. One component of the design includes an on-site treatment system for wastewater that contributes to the landscapes irrigation.
Beus Center for Law & Society
Completed in 2016, a 280,000-square-foot sustainable law school building constructed of metal panels and glass, and divided with a courtyard of double-height spaces. The structure contains the main lobby, the main library and open-air walkway bridges, and energy efficient as much as possible.
Burton Barr Central Library
Built in 1995, another 280,000-square-foot structure that includes a large sunlit Great Reading Room, co-working space, designated Arizona room, a College Depot, Teen Central and Children’s Place.
Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium
Located on the ASU Campus in Tempe and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this famous auditorium was built at the request of former ASU president Grady Gammage, and was originally designed as an opera house to be located in Baghdad. It stands 80 feet tall, with three stories, and seats 3,000.
Phoenix Art Museum
Founded in 1959 with 25,000 square feet and expanded upon in following years, it is considered the largest art museum in the southwest. Currently, it is 285,000 square feet of modern architecture containing several galleries, an auditorium, research library, a store and a restaurant.
Phoenix Financial Center
Situated at Central and Osborn, the Phoenix Financial Center is one of the most iconic buildings in the Valley. The signature cluster of buildings developed by David H. Murdock and designed by architect W. A. Sarmiento features two adjacent rotundas and a south-facing curved tower highlighted by 12-inch vertical slots that bring to mind the image of a 10-story punch card. The gold-accented buildings were constructed in 1964, but the original plan of creating an identical north-facing tower was never completed.
Prayer Pavilion of Light
Located in Phoenix at the end of a 600-foot-long path, a simple rectangular form constructed of a steel frame and double-layered glass that provides soft lighting on the interior all day – and glows brilliant colors at night with the LEDs encased between the layers of glass. Eight-foot sliding glass doors are provided on three sides of the building, lending to the interior to exterior experience. This building is truly a magnificent sight to see.
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
Located in Scottsdale, the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is the spring training facility for both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, the facility seats 11,000 people and is located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The architecture contains aspects and elements designed to pay homage to Native American architecture and culture, while also framing views and providing as much shade as possible.
Souper Salad (Formerly Western Savings Bank, Metrocenter Branch)
Constructed in 1975 by architect W.A. Sarmiento, the building offers some distinct design features including a ribbed conical tower intended to be visible from Interstate I-17. The tower was originally painted white and offered a central skylight, but those features have since been modified.
Taliesin West was Frank Lloyd Wright’s combined personal winter residence and school of architecture; it was built in his later years and established in 1937. Now considered a National Historic Landmark, this building embodies Wright’s well-known design philosophy and was maintained by him and his apprentices.
Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe Center for the Arts is an 88,000-square-foot performing and visual arts center which opened in September 2007 on the banks of Tempe Town Lake with 180-degree views. It contains several venues, including a large auditorium that seats 600, a black box theatre space that seats 200, an outdoor amphitheater and a 3,500-square-foot gallery.
Valley National Bank at 44th and Camelback (now Chase Bank)
This bank was famously built by Frank Henry in 1964. The unique mid-century building is based entirely on circles. It is made of concrete and large stones and features concrete dendriform columns, scallop details and views of Camelback Mountain.
With the exception of Robrt Pela and a select group of residents, the general public’s views of the Westward Ho are limited only to its exterior. That’s because since its closing in 1980 the historic 1928 hotel that once housed President John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and plenty speakeasy-style shenanigans, was converted into HUD housing. Despite no longer being a nightlife hub or the tallest building in downtown Phoenix, the 16-story structure off Central Avenue remains an iconic staple of the city skyline.