Page D1.1 . 15 October 2003                     
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    Art Deco Phoenix

    by Brian Libby

    The City of Phoenix, Arizona may be admired for its maverick spirit and the beauty of the surrounding desert. But this sprawling city of more than 350 square miles (900 square kilometers) has never been known for high-density living. The residential redevelopment known as Orpheum Lofts, however, sets a more urban example.

    Designed by renowned local architects Lescher & Mahoney and built in 1931, the eleven-story structure — originally known as the Phoenix Title and Trust Building — is being transformed into 90 loft spaces by the Denver office of The Lawrence Group Architects. A pristine example of the Art Deco style, the building has been described by one state historic preservation official as Arizona's most significant piece of architecture (although Frank Lloyd Wright fans might argue for Taliesin West).

    New Life for Art Deco

    The Orpheum Lofts, due for completion in June 2004, are situated at First and Adams Streets in the Copper Square area of downtown. This location makes it ideal as a pioneering residential highrise for uninitiated Arizonans accustomed to living in subdivisions a half-hour's drive from Phoenix's urban core. "When we saw it, we just fell in love with it," recalls Norm Sheldon of TASB, the Denver development company behind the project.

    Indeed, the brick and terra cotta building is one of the few Art Deco projects in the city, but Arizona's hot, dry climate has preserved the building very well. It was only because of concerns about asbestos and lead paint that it was not redeveloped earlier — and because the city has little tradition of urban living.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    The art deco Phoenix (Arizona) Title and Trust Building is being transformed into the Orpheum Lofts.
    Photo: Orpheum Lofts

    ArchWeek Image

    Dining room of one of the residential units of the Orpheum Lofts.
    Photo: Orpheum Lofts

     

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