A Tower in the Village

When you live in a state named for the Grand Canyon, it’s only fitting that the most dramatic and iconic landmarks are works of nature.  Camelback Mountain beats Frank Lloyd Wright, even on his best day.

So, when you hear talk about iconic architectural statements, it’s only natural to ask yourself how a building can compete with the  unique statement made by the stunning beauty of our Sonoran desert.

It can’t — and no building should try.   Buildings should compliment what’s already here.

That’s the mission of the proposed Phoenix Observation Tower.

Key to the concept is the notion that observing Phoenix is a gift in itself.   The Valley’s mountains and sunsets are not the competition for a Tower, they are its main course.

I have enjoyed this special place called “the Valley”  since the mid-1970’s when my family turned a page and left Detroit.  This is now home — I went to high school and college in metropolitan Phoenix.  My children were born and raised here, I’ve run a business here, I’ve supported causes and candidates and I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in projects that have changed the community.  It is fair to say that I am quite partial to Phoenix, Arizona.

My friends and colleagues at Novawest feel similarly toward Phoenix and they have given me a chance to help with plans to build a 430-foot Observation Tower downtown.

We think the Valley deserves to be seen, and to be shown.

The Tower concept is based generally on the 1962 Seattle Space Needle.  It’s a big idea from an architectural design firm aptly named, BIG.  It’s an icon.  It’s a landmark. It’s an attraction.  It’s a destination for special occasions or for visitors from out of town.  It’s a photo opportunity, it’s a day-trip, it’s an art walk, a history tour, a dinner-and-drink with a view.

Here are the highlights:

  • The Tower is 430-feet tall
  • The Tower can be illuminated at night.
  • It includes four different kinds of space:  observation decks, restaurant, bar/lounge, and event/banquet space.
  • The Tower was designed by Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels www.big.dk
  • The design includes both interior and exterior space for observation, combining external viewing opportunities with art and historical displays internally.
  • Project is designed in a descending spiral; gravity helps bring the observer around and down from the peak platform.
  • Event & Banquet space for up to 300 people.  Restaurant seats 200.
  • 3-glass elevators carry guest up the column with exterior views, through the programmed space in the globe arriving at the top.
  • Ticket price for the Observation Deck is expected to be $15
  • The Tower is planned for property adjacent to the Arizona Science Center in Science and Heritage Park, just north of Washington, between 5th and 7th Street.

Importantly, the Tower project will be privately funded.  It is a long-term investment in Phoenix.

So, why now?

It’s time.  Our economy is improving and our city is destined to grow.   The Super Bowl comes again in 2015 and the world will be looking in on Phoenix, the largest capital city in America.  It is a dynamic, new, growing city.  Quietly, confidently, we have taken our place as a Sunbelt destination and there is no turning back.

So, the view from this corner is:  Let’s be bold.  St. Louis has its arch.  Seattle has the Space Needle.  San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge.  An iconic structure in downtown Phoenix by a world-renowned architect would undoubtedly have an impact – pictures of the structure have already appeared in media around the world.

Looking at the Tower, the world will see “Phoenix”.

But it is in looking from this symbolic structure, that one will truly see Phoenix.  A Valley, surrounded by mountains both iconic and anonymous.  The sun setting in the west casting its orange/purple glow, planes coming and going from Sky Harbor Airport,  and a bustling city spread all around you, alive and breathing before your very eyes.

All the wonders of the place we call home, seen from a unique perch just an elevator ride away.










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