It's good to be in Phoenix for the food and the architecture these days. We've even heard of people coming here for just those two things.
As part of the Modern Phoenix Week events, last night a group gathered at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art to ponder the notion that modern design has elevated modern dining. David Tyda of Desert Living moderated a panel including five architects who have worked on such projects.
Each adaptive reuse project discussed took an existing midcentury modern period building and transformed it by focusing on the best the building and site had to offer to reusing existing and even neighboring restaurants structural goods to create something new, yet old -- and modern.
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The panelists were (shown from left to right in the panelist pics) DJ Fernandes, designer/owner, Tuck Shop
, Aric Mei, designer/owner, Parlor Pizzeria
, Peter M. Koliopoulos AIA, architect, The Vig
+ The Vig Uptown
, Hayes McNeil, architect, Postino Wine Bar
, and Wendell Burnette, AIA, architect, St. Francis
In addition, Deena McKinley from the city of Phoenix Development Services Department
addressed how these pioneering projects have brought about what she (and some others in attendance) view as good change within that city department.
If you have any design sensibility at all -- or a background in business -- you can appreciate the massive efforts that go into adaptive reuse restaurant projects. From hammering out city code regulations to making nice-nice with the neighbors, these projects aren't simple or uncomplicated.
For the folks who spoke last night, the opportunity for creating something unique in a sea of strip malls far outweighed the prospect of working with a city that has a reputation of being "difficult". Lured by the low, post-real estate boontime price tags, adaptive reuse was more than trendy -- it was smart.
Aric Mei (The Parlor) experienced the most pain, er, "difficulty" - paying double-time for workers to only work during the night due to a regulation set by the city to ensure the construction didn't interfere with daytime traffic. Getting tagged by the locals was the least of their problems.
But, no pain - no gain, right?
One of the best things to come of The Parlor's hoop-jumping, the experts said last night, is how the city has responded by streamlining and modifying their processes for the next generation of vanguard architects. As evidence, DJ Fernandes of the Tuck Shop had nothing but good things to say about working with the city.
A lingering question: Why did this event take place in Scottsdale? It would be great to see the city of Phoenix or Phoenix Art Museum sponsor such discussions. In any case, props to SMOCA.