Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Preserving our sense of place (op-ed)

[Source: Arizona Republic] -- As construction workers labored to transform a former bank tower in downtown Phoenix into a splendid boutique hotel, an industry consultant noted approvingly that "there is demand for this." Indeed, there appears to be much demand for new projects downtown. The Hotel Monroe (pictured) under construction - formerly the Valley National Bank - is but one of many developments. But the declaration that "there is a demand for this" prompts the question: What is this? Merely another hotel? Well, there is growing demand for hotels in downtown, certainly. But projects such as the Hotel Monroe represent something more.

In Phoenix, perhaps more than in any other major American city, there is a need - a demand, really - for the old to be incorporated into the new. This concept is becoming increasingly important to this burgeoning community - adaptive reuse of existing spaces. "More than ever, we are realizing how important adaptive reuse is when your goal is to build a truly sustainable city," said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, acknowledging the city's role in celebrating National Preservation Month. As the outward push of development slows precipitously, now is a good time to emphasize those landmarks we already possess and what new uses we might make of them. The $100 million Hotel Monroe, in fact, is but one (albeit, spectacular) example of adaptive reuse of existing structures in the center city. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]