Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dissecting downtown Phoenix

[Source: Phoenix Metropolitan magazine] -- Once a booming playground for Hollywood’s elite, a promise land for post-depression-era debauchery and a metropolis on the verge of greatness, Arizona’s capitol city seemed to dry up without ever reaching its prime. Poor planning, cheap surrounding desert land and even an insane asylum have been blamed for the abandonment of the city’s center.

Whatever the reason, its the current generation that’s responsible for building it, brick by brick, into what Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon calls a 21st century city. No easy feat, considering the current administration’s struggle with lack of public interest, deteriorating historic structures, vacant lots, a prevalent homeless culture (or the perception of one) and an overall steamless campaign to add movement, vitality, and energy to the downtown era. But don’t dismiss it just yet. There’s optimism in the air, and this time around there’s also private funding to follow.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Elizabeth Mitchell.]

Progress continues on Phoenix's Encanto-Palmcroft district extension

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] -- The Historic Preservation Commission reviewed a proposed amendment to the National Register of Historic Places listing for the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District. The district has been listed on the National Register since 1984 and the Phoenix Register since 1987. The current amendment proposes extending the period of significance from 1927-1945 to 1927-1960. The Commission and staff agreed with extending the period of significance, but also recommended that portions of Encanto Park and the Golf Course not currently included in the historic district boundary be added. If approved by the State Board of Review and National Park Service, this expansion could help to make additional historic properties in the neighborhood eligible for the state historic property tax reduction program.

[Note: Click here for more information about the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office.]

Panel slow in acting on Registry of historic farms

[Source: Erin Zlomek, Business Gazette] -- James Truman wistfully watched developers tear down a 1930s-era cotton gin across from his family's citrus farm in Waddell this summer. In place, there are plans for 7,200 houses and a Westcor regional shopping mall, all part of Surprise's huge Prasada development. Truman recalls at least two other West Valley cotton gins swallowed by development in the recent past. He hopes his farm, a 160-acre citrus grove surrounding antique barns and a paint-peeled house built in the 1940s, isn't next. Like many local history buffs, Truman worries that the torrid pace of development on the Valley's fringes will plow under all evidence of the area's agricultural roots, leaving behind few signs of the Western lifestyle and charm that once defined Arizona. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Updates to the Phoenix exterior rehab grant program

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] -- The Historic Preservation Commission recommended revisions to the city’s popular Exterior Rehabilitation Grant Program, a matching grant program for historic property owners to help rehabilitate the exteriors of their historic homes. Effective immediately, the program’s scoring system will be modified to provide an additional point for applicants who attend informational grant workshops offered by the HP Office prior to submitting a grant application; applicants will be required to submit structural analyses along with applications proposing structural/foundation work; all applications addressing masonry repointing, cleaning, or paint removal must evidence that they meet the HP Office’s new technical repair briefs on these issues at time of application; and the grant scoring criteria will be delineated more clearly in the application program guide.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Aravaipa Canyon's Cobra Ranch an environmental godsend

[Source: Doug Kreutz, Daily Star] -- Nothing is more wondrous in a desert region than water welling up from the earth and flowing across the land. This spectacle of nature plays out dramatically at the remote Cobra Ranch, where water emerges from underground and forms a year-round stream in otherwise parched terrain. Now, thanks to the generosity of a Tucson artist and businessman, the ranch and its invaluable water source are part of a Nature Conservancy preserve. Sculptor and restaurateur Dan Bates recently donated the sprawling spread northwest of Willcox to the Conservancy, which added the land to its Aravaipa Canyon Preserve just downstream from the ranch.

It starts as a trickle of moisture seeping up from the soil of this historic ranch northwest of Willcox. Then, fed little by little with water rising to the surface from a subterranean source, the trickle grows to a modest flow — and finally blossoms into a gurgling, life-giving stream as it enters spectacular Aravaipa Canyon. The future of this year-round stream, a natural wonder rarely found in a desert place such as Aravaipa Canyon, was brightened recently in a single bold, generous stroke. Dan Bates, a Tucson sculptor and businessman whose family had owned the Cobra Ranch for about 30 years, donated it to The Nature Conservancy. The nonprofit Conservancy is adding the ranch land — 1,250 private acres and 10,000 acres of state and federal leases — to its adjoining Aravaipa Canyon Preserve. That effectively assures that the ranch and its precious water sources won't be developed or tapped for groundwater pumping.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: A.E. Araiza, Daily Star.]

Maricopa County continues to demolish buildings in Phoenix's warehouse district

[Source: David Therrien] -- As I write, demolition crews are working on the old church at 9th Ave & Madison (NE corner), across the street from the Arizona Testing Laboratories art space. This church dates back to 1911 according to SHPO. It is one of few old-old buildings left in the west warehouse district. As far as I know, SHPO reviewed the building a few years ago, but deemed it insignificant. It used to be part of the old St. Vincent de Paul complex, which has some nice 40's and 50's warehouses as well -- ideal for artists' studios/galleries/cafes. I have no idea what Maricopa county plans to put in its place - most likely an empty lot.

The county has applied for permits to demolish other buildings on the block -- 802 & 806 W. Madison (including the old Gallery X building), but conveniently missed applying for this one, perhaps to avoid a review by the city's historic preservation office (although they don't ever seem to stop any historic demolitions downtown). This block of buildings, along with my block on the south side of the street, make up the only small scale storefront/warehouse block left in the downtown (buildings built out to the property line). It wouldn't be unique in any other city, but it is in Phoenix -- a small downtown street fully built out from one end of the block to the other. It has been turning around the last few years -- going from the worst street in the city (see the NT article about Madison Street) to a workable artists neighborhood, with three galleries, studios, and soon a new cafe.

The county is continuing its campaign of suburban sprawl in the downtown, building low rise buildings and giant (empty) parking garages with taxpayer money, tearing down the existing historic structures (ironically, most owned or occupied by artists). Vacant lots now sit where vibrant art studios and galleries once thrived. They are paying NO attention to the downtown urban fabric and plan/design as if they were in a cornfield in Gilbert. Call city council members, county supervisors. Get them to stop and think, even if for just a moment.

AHC announces new marketing tool for reaching the cultural heritage tourist

[Source: Arizona Humanities Council] -- From October 2004 through September 2005, the Arizona Office of Tourism commissioned research by Arizona State University West to conduct surveys at 18 cultural heritage attractions and three festivals in Arizona, resulting in a detailed profile of the typical Arizona cultural heritage tourist. The Arizona Humanities Council translated the information from the research into the Cultural Heritage Tourism Study, an appealing and practical marketing guide for Arizona’s cultural heritage sites seeking to attract and serve this growing segment of in-state and out-of-state visitors to their venues.

The Cultural Heritage Tourism Study divides the data from the surveys about cultural heritage travelers into ten key sections covering who they are, where they come from, where they get their information, how they plan, what they like to do, and other pertinent areas. Each section provides context for what the information means to a cultural heritage site seeking to attract these visitors, as well as listing specific questions for sites to consider when assessing their effectiveness in serving and marketing to the cultural heritage traveler. By providing the information in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-use format, the Cultural Heritage Tourism Study can help sites strengthen their exhibits and programs, and use simple, innovative techniques to focus their outreach to this growing market. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

History plays role in new Scottsdale townhouse project

[Source: Peter Corbett, Arizona Republic] -- Valley architect Will Bruder has reached back into a lost chapter of Scottsdale history for a 10-unit townhouse complex southeast of Scottsdale and Camelback roads. The Upton project (pictured) at 7228 E. Shoeman Lane is within site of a home built about 1950 for industrialist Louis Upton, who made his fortune manufacturing washing machines. The Upton house was designed by modern architect Paul Schweikher, Bruder's friend and mentor who retired to a Sedona mountaintop after heading the architecture schools at Yale and later Carnegie-Mellon universities.

Bruder said the Upton house was built in an orange grove and had an iconic courtyard and flaming fountain as its focal point. That courtyard design is carried over to the new Upton townhouses, which include four single-level flats and six duplexes. "This is celebrating and modernizing history," Bruder said. He plans to start building the townhouses by this fall and complete them within a year, just north of the Galleria Corporate Center. Bruder's homes of 1,650 square feet to 2,550 square feet will be priced starting at $1 million. The Upton house was torn down in the early 1970s, Bruder said. Had it been preserved, the Louis Upton house downtown might have been adapted as a library, gallery, or restaurant.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Image source: artist's rendering.]

Pecos, 55th Ave. routes in Phoenix would require prehistoric digs

[Source: Kerry Fehr-Snyder, Arizona Republic] -- Ancient Native American artifacts likely are buried under the path of the proposed South Mountain Freeway, Phoenix's lead archaeologist and freeway planners agree. But unlike the now-U.S. 60 built in the early 1970s, construction crews won't be allowed to encase the ruins in asphalt. "That's an old saw," said Todd Bostwick, who has studied the Hohokam people for more than 25 years. "They (crews) have to dig them now." Bostwick said he is virtually sure of Hohokam villages along the proposed 22-mile path for the South Mountain Freeway, which would run west along Pecos Road through part of the South Mountain Preserve and north to 55th Avenue.

Rock art known as petroglyphs are widespread throughout the South Mountain area (pictured), leaving Bostwick little doubt that pre-historic Hohokam people settled in the area as early as 300 years before the birth of Christ. In 1973, crews building the Superstition Freeway (now U.S. 60) unearthed Hohokam pottery shards, remnants of an extensive irrigation system and other relics east of Rural Road along the highway's path. The discovery prompted the federal government to halt construction of a two-mile segment from Rural to Price Road to allow archeologists time to excavate and document the discovery. Ultimately, the federal government allowed the freeway to be built -- but at ground level along that portion rather than below, as originally planned. Freeway planners at the time argued it was better to pave over the Hohokam village rather than find a new alignment for the freeway or stop its construction. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

AHC cultural heritage tourism grant guidelines

[Source: Arizona Humanities Council] -- The Arizona Humanities Council, with funds from the NEH’s We the People initiative, is offering two $10,000 grants for the development and implementation of heritage tourism products that provide accurate and authentic interpretation of an area’s history and heritage by qualified humanities scholars, and demonstrate the ability to attract out-of-town tourists.

APPLICANTS: Arizona museums, historic houses, archaeological sites, and heritage centers that are constituted for nonprofit purposes, or are parts of governmental or tribal entities. Applicant organizations must own and exhibit artifacts, have at least one professional staff member or the full-time equivalent, be open at least 120 days per year, and have been open on a regular basis for at least two years before the date of application. Applicants must demonstrate that their planning committees include representation from the community’s chamber of commerce, CVB, and other related tourism sectors.

PROJECTS: Funding is limited to the planning and implementation of products that help preserve and tell a community’s story, such as exhibits. (AHC is interested in supporting lasting products rather than events such as festivals or lecture series.) Projects must provide accurate and authentic interpretation of the area’s history and heritage by qualified humanities scholars, and themes should draw from the unique stories of the museum’s geographic location and the people who live there, but should resonate with regional, national, and even international audiences. Projects must include marketing activities to attract an out-of-town audience, which may be part of a broader plan in conjunction with the applicant’s tourism community partners.

BUDGET: Eligible costs include administration, scholars and consultants, exhibition planning and fabrication, and interpretive materials. Grants will require at least a 100% match, cash or in-kind. Marketing activities should be counted as match.

GRANT PROCESS: Submit an "Intent To Apply" by the July 30, 2007, deadline. Proposals will be due September 10, 2007, for projects with expenditures occurring after October 22, 2007. Projects should be completed by October 31, 2008. [For more information, click here.]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Investor wants to turn Phoenix Warehouse into urban market

[Source: Andrew Johnson, Arizona Republic] -- A historic warehouse south of the US Airways Center would be turned into boutique shops, restaurants and a farmers market if a local real estate investor's plans come to fruition. Dayton Investments LLC, an Illinois-based company that was started by Valley resident Steve Rosenstein in 1995, has purchased the 14,000-square-foot building at 525 S. Central Ave. for $2.6 million. The sale closed Friday. Although his plans are preliminary, Rosenstein said he wants to convert the space into an "urban lifestyle market" that combines high-end restaurants and retail space. The project's centerpiece would be a farmers market that would be open daily. The Scottsdale resident said he was attracted to the property because of its history and its proximity to other developments being proposed for downtown Phoenix. "I started looking around a few years ago, (and) I just didn't see anything happening around there," he said. "All of the sudden it looks like a renaissance city." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tracking the Civilian Conservation Corps history

[Source: Patty Machelor, Daily Star] -- Edward L. Lindsey (pictured) credits the Civilian Conservation Corps with shaping his life, and saving a nation. At 93, this East Side resident calls the Great Depression years among the greatest of his life. "It saved us. What really happened … is it avoided a revolution because people were about to do just that," he said. "It created job opportunities for young men who didn't have any, and it got them off the streets." Tucsonan J.J. Lamb and other Arizona historians are working to preserve stories like Lindsey's to teach future generations about the CCC's role in Arizona. Last week, the Pima County Parklands Foundation received a $6,025 grant from the Arizona Humanities Council for a project called "The New Deal in Arizona: Connections to Our Historic Landscape." Lamb, who is overseeing the project, said researchers are planning to record Arizona's top CCC projects. This includes an interpretive map on 100 Arizona New Deal projects, 1933-42. They also plan to catalog all of Arizona's CCC projects.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Daily Star.]

Gorgeous new Heard North an enlightening destination

[Source: Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic] -- The new Heard Museum North satellite gallery does two things that the mothership museum in Phoenix has always done well: a well-thought out exhibit in a first-rate facility. Having moved from its old digs, the new Heard North is as beautiful a setting as possible, with blond bamboo-plank floors, walls built from the darkened wood of an old winery, clean lines, dramatic lighting and perfect landscaping with a small sculpture garden. You couldn't ask for more. The satellite museum is meant to serve that area of Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Carefree north of Loop 101, out where the desert used to sit but which now is intermittent between high-dollar shopping malls. With its expanding population, the area could well use a museum of the quality that the Heard provides. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Taliesin West in Scottsdale regains accreditation

[Source: Tony Illia] -- The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, also known as Taliesin, regained full accreditation last month from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Its future had been in doubt since the HLC placed it on notice in 2005, following falling enrollment and turmoil within the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which runs the school. Maintaining HLC accreditation is a prerequisite for National Architectural Accrediting Board accreditation, which the school currently has for its master's program. “The stakes were very high for accreditation,” observes Victor Sidy, AIA, who was appointed as the new dean two years ago. “We’ve since streamlined administration and empowered our fulltime faculty to take a more active role in development.”

Taliesin today has 19 students and four fulltime faculty members. Although that’s double the size it was two years ago, it is still one of the country’s smallest accredited architectural schools, with a $500,000 annual budget. Taliesin also remains unusual for its pedagogy. Students follow Wright’s credo that architects should “learn by doing.” The school will continue to emphasize this and other core values including sustainability, Sidy says, but it is encouraging students to explore a broader, more diverse spectrum of architectural styles and periods, using Wright as a touchstone rather than a doctrine. We’re now stretching out, encouraging students to develop their own voice,” Sidy explains.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.]

Mexican eatery marked for Phoenix Historic Registry

[Source: Yvonne Wingett, Arizona Republic] -- The Maricopa County supervisor who illegally demolished one historic site is now being asked to add another to the city's register. A team of historians, Hispanic residents and archivists recently identified El Portal, a Mexican restaurant owned by Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, as a building important to Phoenix's Hispanic history. El Portal, at 701 S. Second Ave., is two doors down from a vacant lot once home to the turn-of-the-century home that Wilcox and her husband, Earl, razed in 2004. At the time, the supervisor said the 105-year-old house was a "drug-infested crack house," and she was unaware it was historic. The pair sidestepped criminal prosecution by agreeing to a settlement, including a $10,000 donation to the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office to promote the city's Hispanic heritage. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

U.S. Rep. Pastor proposes support for Phoenix's Carver Museum

A museum and cultural center that would be housed in the historic former Carver High School in Phoenix, which was built exclusively for African-Americans during the period of enforced segregation, would receive a $200,000 boost in funding under legislation approved Wednesday by the U.S. House of Representatives, announced Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz. The former high school at 415 E. Grant Street is undergoing restoration as the new George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. It is dedicated to preserving the African-American culture in Phoenix.

The funding would be used to assist with completing the restoration project, which includes a museum, art gallery, and multipurpose spaces, Pastor said. "The Carver High School restoration is enhancing opportunities for Valley residents and all Arizonans to learn, experience, and share in the diverse cultural heritage of Africans and African Americans," Pastor said. The funding was approved by the House Wednesday in the 2008 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill. The bill now moves to the Senate. Carver High School was built in 1926 and is one of the few remaining structures in Phoenix built exclusively for African Americans during the period of enforced segregation from 1912 to 1954. The building is listed on the national, state and city of Phoenix historic registers.

Priorities skewed if Payson museum allowed to close (Roundup editorial)

[Source: Payson Roundup] -- As the town focuses on what it could be, we seem to be forgetting what we already are. There are new task forces springing up to shape the image and the look of our town, in hopes of making it a more comfortable place to live and more desirable place to visit. The most recent of these task forces is focused on tourism. The tourism task force will examine ways to draw people to Payson through the creation of new festivals and activities. Meanwhile, a museum that is one of the unique features of our town is about to disappear, and no one seems to care. The Museum of Rim Country Archaeology represents everything these efforts are working toward. It sits on Main Street, as another place for visitors to stop, on a corridor we are trying to develop. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Fort Huachuca expansion can only hurt San Pedro River (Republic editorial)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has abandoned its mission of protecting fish and wildlife along Arizona's last wild desert river, the San Pedro. In a biological opinion issued June 15, the Fish and Wildlife Service said Fort Huachuca's water conservation efforts have been so successful that the fort should be allowed to grow by 3,000 personnel - even though the river is shrinking because of growth linked to the fort. The conservation community applauds Fort Huachuca's conservation success, but we are shocked at the political science used by the Fish and Wildlife Service in allowing the fort to expand. San Pedro River stream flow continues to decline as excessive, inadequately mitigated, fort-related growth increases the groundwater pumping deficit. Indeed, since 2005 the San Pedro has twice gone dry in places where it has always flowed. So, if the river is even worse off, how could the Fish and Wildlife Serve conclude that the fort has made it better off? The answer is two-fold. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Architectural Record magazine reports on "Razing Arizona: Phoenix Modern Threatened"

[Source: David M. Brown, Architectural Record] -- If the fate of its mid-century bank buildings is any indication, Phoenix is withdrawing valuable architectural assets from its skyline to make way for growth in the nation’s sixth-largest city. Already lost are two celebrated neighborhood bank branches razed earlier this year: the Ed Varney-designed First Federal Savings branch, and the geodesic-dome Valley National Bank, in nearby Tempe, designed by Weaver & Drover, now called DWL. Dating to the early 1960s, they expressed Phoenix’s post-war commitment to regional architectural. In particular, the Valley National was the brainchild of longtime bank president Walter Bimson, an arts patron and friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. Even in a city where the automobile drove development, Bimson initially dismissed drive-up windows and preferred that customers meet with tellers face-to-face—he later came around.

Preservationists worry that another former Valley National branch, now occupied by Chase Bank, could be threatened. Located in the upscale Arcadia neighborhood, this 1967-vintage building is often mistaken for a work by Wright. The building’s precast mushroom columns, view windows, and the careful interweaving of modern materials with hand-selected local rocks are in fact Wright-inspired touches by Weaver & Drover project architect Frank M. Henry, who still teaches at Taliesin West. The 4.7-acre Chase site includes the 9,000-squre-foot bank, a parking lot, and a greenbelt park that the last to buffer commercial and residential uses in Arcadia. But developer Opus West has proposed replacing the greenbelt and some of the parking lot with a complex of condominiums, restaurants, and retail space. “Our plans call for a design that is appropriate in today’s development market and preserves the bank branch,” says Jeff Roberts, the firm’s vice president of real estate development. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tombstone 'church too tough to die' celebrates 125 years

[Source: Stephanie Innes, Daily Star] -- A lesser-known piece of Tombstone lore has nothing to do with gunslingers or prostitutes. Not far from the Boot Hill graveyard, the Crystal Palace Saloon and the O.K. Corral is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, founded eight months after the famed Earp-McClaury shootout and 32 years before Arizona became a state. St. Paul’s will celebrate its 125th anniversary Saturday with an eye on the future, though it currently has only about 40 members, none younger than 57. Its supporters are passionate about ensuring the charming little church with its gothic arches and big red front door endures through another century and a quarter. A federal historic landmark, St. Paul’s is the oldest Protestant church in the state that is still standing on its original site and used for its original purpose. Made of adobe bricks and wood from the Chiricahua Mountains, the building has changed little since 24-year-old East Coast aristocrat and seminarian Endicott Peabody led the first service there on June 18, 1882. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Herberger high-rise in downtown Phoenix?

The Herberger Theater's president would like to see a high-rise sprout on the half acre of green on the east side of the landmark. But early city concerns could mean curtains for the idea. A major development could provide financial security for the Herberger, says Dick Bowers, president of the Herberger Theater Center. The Herberger sits on prime downtown real estate: it stands between the $350 million, 32-story Sheraton hotel under construction and the Phoenix Convention Center, which is in the midst of a $600 million expansion.

“Downtown is booming and we want to play a role in that,” says Bowers, who adds that a hotel, condo or office tower, shops and performance space could go in the project. The nonprofit that operates the Herberger has received queries from developers who are interested in the spot, Bowers said. But a shovel can’t go in the ground without the city’s OK. Phoenix owns the dirt under the Herberger and the theater itself, said City Manager Frank Fairbanks. “Everywhere downtown we see towers rising,” Fairbanks said. “What we are not seeing downtown is cultural space. We should view that land as a cultural resource.” That land could be used to expand the theater expansion, furnish offices for performance groups or open a restaurant for theatergoers.

"Sharlot's Way" in Prescott

[Source: Emily Seftel, Arizona Republic]
If Congress had had its way 100 years ago, we might be living in New Mexizona today. But author and editor Sharlot Hall had something to say about that. Appalled by a congressional proposal to admit Arizona and New Mexico into the Union as one state, the Prescott woman wrote an epic poem, Arizona, making fun of the idea and explaining why the territory deserved individual statehood. The poem ran in a number of publications and was delivered to each member of Congress in 1906. No one knows how much impact the poem had, but later that year, Congress changed the proposal. Unless you're an Arizona history buff, Sharlot Hall's name probably doesn't spark any glimmers of recognition, but she is one of the most important Arizona women you've never heard of.

After years of writing stories and poems for Out West magazine, Hall was appointed territorial historian in 1909, making her the first woman to hold public office in the state, no small feat in an era in which women couldn't vote. The museum that bears her name is just as interesting as the woman. It places her life in the larger context of the time and region in which she she lived. The Sharlot Hall Museum, just a few streets away from Court- house Square, is a perfect size, large enough to make the trip worthwhile, small enough that you can linger over exhibits without worrying that you won't have time to see the entire place. When you walk into the museum center, you're greeted by a small exhibit about Sharlot Hall. A short movie in the theater next door gives you some of Prescott's history. But the real gems of the museum lie in the buildings scattered around the grounds; many date to the 19th century (a rarity in a state that has seen its population more than double in only the last two decades). [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Monday, July 02, 2007

Biosphere 2, 20 years old, deemed worthy of preservation

[Source: Mark Kimble, Tucson Citizen] -- When the University of Arizona this week announced plans to take over and operate Biosphere 2, scientists weren't the only ones overjoyed. The preservation community - people accustomed to saving century-old Victorian homes and places where George Washington slept - has been worried about the future of the Biosphere, which is barely 20 years old. Preservation magazine, the nation's foremost voice for historic preservation, recently published a cover story on the Biosphere. "Will the lust for undeveloped land signal the end for this architectural wonder?" the story's author asked. Not yet. On Tuesday, UA said it will take over the Biosphere and use it as originally intended: as a world-class research center. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the start of construction on the Biosphere. The exact construction cost has never been disclosed, but it was at least $200 million. It would cost many times that to replicate it today.

A steel and glass monument in the desert - and one that has been completed for fewer than two decades - hardly seems like something that would be of interest to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which publishes Preservation magazine. But the magazine's editor says that's a misnomer. "Buildings of the recent past are often much more endangered than old Victorian buildings," said Arnold Berke, Preservation editor. "As time marches on, we're concerned with newer and newer buildings," he said. "Modern buildings are very much a target of preservationists." That prompted the magazine to devote the cover of its May/June issue to an iconic photo of the Biosphere and a story by contributing editor Reed Karaim. Karaim calls the Biosphere "an immediately recognizable architectural icon" that will need "luck to survive the inexorable march of the bulldozers." He reflects on the design of the main structure, writing, "The frame-and-glass pyramids, each with three majestic steps up to a flat top, echoed the pyramids of Central America." The roof of the agricultural area "was inspired by the reed dwellings of the Mesopotamian marshlands, first used as far back as 2000 B.C.," Karaim wrote. "Its wondrous engineering and compelling architecture are reason enough to save it," he added.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Biosphere 2.]