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The "A" List: Icons of Arizona Architecture

Author: Laura Gold
Issue: January, 2010, Page 164

Photo by Nancy Beadle/GNOSIS Ltd.

Alfred Newman Beadle V
Alfred (Al) Newman Beadle V. (1927-1998)

Birthplace: St. Paul, Minnesota

Schooling: Beadle had no formal schooling in architecture but educated himself during an apprenticeship at his father’s kitchen-design business and through construction experience gained during his World War II military service. His intention was to become a builder, but an interest in solving design as well as structural problems led him to architecture—Modern architecture in particular.

Inspiration: After his stint in the military, Beadle found he wanted to live in a warmer climate, which brought him to Arizona. An avid follower of Mies van der Rohe, he took a simple, no-frills approach to design. He believed in architectural simplicity and considered himself a Minimalist, a quality evident in the angular glass-walled “Beadle box” designs he built in Arizona.

Hallmarks of residential designs:
• Simple, unpretentious forms
• Flat roofs
• Open carports
• Walls of glass
• Steel framework
• Foundations on stilts

Contributions/claims to fame: Beadle was a Navy Seabee (a member of the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion) during World War II. He was chosen as a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest in 1993. Beadle lectured at Arizona State University’s School of Architecture.

Photo by Christiaan Blok

Beadle designed this Modernist Paradise Valley residence in 1966 to take advantage of sun and shade.
Other talents/hobbies
: Beadle sculpted metal into abstract art, challenging himself to make an entire piece from one sheet of steel.

Photo courtesy Don Christensen & Jon Poetzl

George W. Christensen (1929-2003)
George W. Christensen (1929-2003)

Birthplace: Evanston, Illinois

Schooling: Christensen earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he studied under the famous Mies van der Rohe.

Inspiration: Christensen’s work reveals traces of Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean influences. During college, he led a group of Boy Scouts to Philmont Ranch in New Mexico, where they helped make adobe blocks for a restoration project. His Latin leanings also may have stemmed from working with Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in South America. 

Hallmarks of residential designs:
• Masterful use of light, space and material
• Designs with a timeless, historic feel
• Varied ceiling heights
• Thick adobe or masonry walls

Contributions/claims to fame: He became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1981; he also was a visiting professor of architecture at Arizona State University. In 1990, Christensen was named a Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest, and in 2001 he received the AIA Educator’s Award.

Photo by Kim Cornelison

Built in 1974, this Spanish Colonial Christensen-designed Phoenix home features white stucco walls, a red tile roof, varied levels, and ample windows to seduce light and provide views.
Other talents/hobbies
: Christensen loved to sail, a hobby he took up as a teenager, and also enjoyed mentoring young architects.

Photo provided by Barney Gonzales

Barnaby (Bennie) M. Gonzales (1924-2008)
Barnaby (Bennie) M. Gonzales (1924-2008)

Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona

Schooling: Gonzales was one of the first people to graduate with a degree in architecture from Arizona State University (ASU), which at the time was called Arizona State Teachers College, and also completed one year of postgraduate study at the University of Mexico in Mexico City. He was one of the first Mexican-Americans to be registered as an architect in the state.

: Gonzales worked as a fireman while he studied at ASU, and learned that adobe is resilient. He later used concrete blocks covered in stucco to resemble adobe. He liked to incorporate salvaged materials in his designs, and his own home included a coffee table made from an old pig gate and doors that came from an old hacienda in Mexico.

Hallmarks of residential designs:
• Use of materials native to the region
• Salvaged materials
• Simple functional designs

Contributions/claims to fame: In addition to the Scottsdale City Hall and Library and the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, he designed a palace in Saudi Arabia for the country’s king that cost almost $1.5 billion. Architecture and building were in Gonzales’ blood. His uncle Santiago (S.L.) Cahill was a contractor who built the Heard Museum, the Arizona Biltmore and Camelback Inn. Gonzales also was a guest lecturer at ASU.

Photo provided by Barney Gonzales

Views were of primary importance when Gonzales conceived his own home in Paradise Valley, which won a design award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1967. Described as Cubist Pueblo in form, it is surrounded by a low wall and features simple boxes and shapes arranged for open living, the architect had noted. He utilized many materials and design elements that were new at the time, such as louvered wood shutters to regulate sunlight, which led to features in Life magazine and in Sunset shortly after the residence was completed.
Other talents/hobbies
: Gonzales enjoyed painting and designed his own home as a loft space in which to display his art.
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