Inside, more classy disguising. The standard dining room is broken up with waist-high partitions and decorated with pennants, a photographic ÔHall of Fame" of ASU jocks, and TVs tuned to sports channels. The oak furnishings hardly look like they were made to be hosed down, as fast feeders used to be. The only disappointment is that the Archus Group failed to open the space inside the towers to the dining area, which might have added some real spatial drama.

Could this be too pleasant a dining environment? Could it encourage people to hang around too long, thus disabling the low-cost/high-volume formula essential to fast food?

I don't think so," says co-designer Rick Cartell. McDonald's has evolved a family orientation, and they want pleasant environments for people. I don't think they punch a clock to see how quickly they can get someone in and out the door."

Still, it wasn't wholly McDonald's initiative that mandated a building as good as this. Drive west on Southern Avenue from deepest Mesa into Tempe, and, just west of Dobson Road, at the border, you encounter a startling transformation in the fast-food streetscape. Suddenly, the landscaping around the Burger Kings and Taco Bells grows more luxuriant, the garish signs more retiring, the tile on the mansards meekly blending with the colors of the strip shopping centers in the background. If Dorothy had been tornadoed from suburban Topeka to suburban Oz, this is the transformation she might have seen.

The fast feeders didn't do this out of simple good will. Local city halls have been forcing it. The difference between Tempe and Mesa is that Tempe started its citizens' design review board earlier, and has cracked the whip more aggressively.

Municipalities are getting more involved with our design, either through conditional-use permits or design review boards," says Dick Barber, director of architecture and engineering for Jack in the Box restaurants. And the West Coast is setting the trend. We're seeing it more in California and Arizona, and to some degree Washington state, than anywhere else."

Design review boards in Tempe, Scottsdale and Mesa have been mostly successful with the fast feeders. At the most basic level, contrast the unreviewed Rally's Hamburgers outlets in Phoenix with the one at 1410 West University in Tempe. The latter is the same cheap stucco box, but it's dressed up with eucalyptus trees, a brick skirt and a sunburst of yellow tile on the parapet. Beautiful it isn't, but it does look a bit more permanent, a bit richer in texture.

part 1 of 2


« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets