Nerd Culture

6 Metro Phoenix Landmarks That Remind Us of Science Fiction

When fans and followers of the Stargate franchise step through the center of Ilan Averbuch's stone sculpture Landmark at the Central Avenue and Camelback Road light rail station, there's a chance they're fantasizing about traveling to distant worlds to fight aliens such as the Goa'uld and Ori.

They're not going bonkers or anything, just playacting with an iconic piece of public art that bears more than a passing resemblance to the fictional interstellar device at the heart of the show. (Seriously, we’ve seen more than a few die-hard “Gaters” posing for photos in front of the thing over the years.)

Averbuch's sculpture isn't the only structure or landmark in the Valley that causes science fiction geeks to do a double take. We've found five other such places in the metro Phoenix area that give rise to thoughts of traveling though the Final Frontier or into a galaxy far, far away.

La Luz del Mundo Church
Resembles: R2-D2 from Star Wars — Episode IV: A New Hope

When the parishioners of this non-denominational Christian church along Grand Avenue began construction of a new multi-million-dollar domed house of worship in 2011, it reminded us a little of the uncompleted Death Star from Return of the Jedi. Five years later, the dome-topped structure is nearing completion and now has a resemblance to R2-D2 when the astromech droid was sitting snug in his socket aboard Luke Skywalker’s X-wing star fighter. And yes, we admit that we’ve sort of been obsessed with Star Wars, especially after The Force Awakens came out last year, which might explain why we see things like this.

Landmark: Landmark at the Central Avenue and Camelback Road light rail station
Resembles: The stargate from, um … Stargate

The eye-catching public art located adjacent to the Valley Metro light rail station at Central Avenue and Camelback, which was designed by Israeli-born sculptor Ilan Averbuch, consists of an enormous stone circle being traversed by a series of rusted metal figures. And as we mentioned, it recalls the titular MacGuffin and intergalactic transportation device that was first seen in the 1994 flick Stargate and the three different Syfy channel television shows that spun off from it.

Landmark: Fry's Electronics on Thunderbird Road
Resembles: Rebel Base from Star Wars — Episode IV: A New Hope

When the director George Lucas needed an earth-bound location to portray the secret Rebel Alliance base for the original Star Wars back in 1977, he shot footage of several Mayan temples in Guatemala. A similar style of temple used by the Aztecs in Mexico was the inspiration behind the design of the Fry's Electronics location on Thunderbird Road in North Phoenix, which was built in the mid-1990s.  

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.