Tucson Architectural Landmarks 2001

Cast your vote in the annual competition.

Tucson's Architecture represents three cultures and over 2,000 years of settlement in this valley. Yet, outside the iconographic monuments used on tourist brochures, we rarely look at any other buildings. Nor do we understand the significance and unique contribution of architecture to Tucson's cultural image of itself as both a historic and contemporary city.

The annual Tucson Architectural Landmarks program gives you an opportunity to change that.

Sponsored by the UA's Arizona Architectural Archives as an educational outreach program, Tucson Architectural Landmarks is held each year in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects' Architecture Week celebration. Nominations for both historic and contemporary landmark buildings are solicited from a variety of design professionals and then voted on by you, the public, with the winners representing the best of Tucson architecture.

Landmark designation has already been awarded to 14 local buildings, including such well-known places as San Xavier, the Pima County Courthouse and Ventana Canyon Resort. But the intention is to add to this list of well-established landmarks, to visit buildings you may not have seen before and maybe learn something new about local architecture.

Take time to visit these buildings, then choose one building in each of the two categories, historic and contemporary, that you feel deserves landmark status.

Submit your ballot to the Tucson Weekly offices by Monday, September 17. The new landmark buildings will be announced in the September 27 Weekly and will be on display at Park Place during Architecture Week, September 29-October 7.

Mark your two choices by circling the photos on the this page and mail it to Architecture, Tucson Weekly, P.O. Box 2429, Tucson, AZ 85702. Or use our Web ballot at www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/contest/.


1. San Pedro Chapel.
5230 East Fort Lowell Road.
As the center of the historic community of El Fuerte, San Pedro Chapel was a focal place for religious rituals and community events. In 1931, this chapel, the third at this location, was commissioned by the community. Though the chapel's design is attributed to architect and contractor Alonso Hubbard, it was built by the residents using earth directly from the site. Today, the chapel and its surrounding secular historic structures are slowly renewing their traditional role as a community center and offering a historic sense of place to the Fort Lowell neighborhood. The 1995 renovation by Bob Vint included structural stabilization, replastering and a new corrugated metal roof.

2. St. Joseph's-Immaculate Heart Academy.
35 E. 15th Street.
Dating from 1886, this two-story building is one of the largest surviving structures from this chapter of Tucson's history. The original building served as a convent, and the addition housed the first Catholic school in Tucson. The first story is constructed of hand-hewn rough-cut stone from Sentinel Peak, and the second story is brick covered with stucco. The stonework, including the cantera window surrounds, was crafted by Jules le Flein, the stonemason who created the Romanesque façade of the first (and since demolished) San Agustín Church, which now surrounds the entrance to the Arizona Historical Society. The original second-floor wooden sleeping porches and the belfry have been removed, but the large interior chapel still remains.

3. Second Owl's Club.
378 N. Main Avenue.
Designed in 1902 by the local architectural firm of Trost and Rust, this massive, two-story building was a larger facility than the first Owl's Club, now called the Steinfeld Mansion. Henry Trost, who had a prolific influence on Tucson's turn-of-the-century architecture, incorporated an eclectic mix of Mission Revival forms and Sullivanesque geometric ornamentation with playful references to local architecture, including the immense, oversized canales, typical of the Sonoran rowhouses; a sculpted façade, reminiscent of that of Mission San Xavier; and local flora and fauna (including the club's owl in the oculus). In 1986, when the building was in ruin from neglect, it was renovated by Garth Collier and Greg Craft and the decorative façade completely re-created by plaster artist Rob Boucher from historic photographs.


A. Ronstadt Transit Center.
East Congress Street and North Sixth Avenue.
This otherwise utilitarian public transportation hub incorporates a variety of architectural elements that create a sense of place in downtown. Designed in 1991 by Fentress Bradburn Architects of Denver, the space is defined by a perimeter trellised arcade that includes bricks from the structures previously located on this site, accented by colorful ceramic tiles and terra cotta panels. Two evaporative cool towers provide visual markers and tiny pools of cool air at their base. The center's secondary function is celebrated during Downtown Saturday Nights, when it becomes an open-air social center in much the same way Tucson's original plazas did.

B. Tucson Creative Dance Center/Mettler Studios.
3131 N. Cherry Avenue.
The architect of this 1963 building, John H. Howe, was an apprentice to, and worked with, Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West until Wright's death. His design is true to his master, with organic forms that appear to rise out of the ground. The original copper roof over the brick walls has now oxidized to a green color and forms a low profile, adding to the organic quality of the building on the land. The intimate scale of the interior also mimics Wright's designs, including the circular performance space with audience seating on the perimeter.

C. Acacia Elementary School.
12955 E. Colossal Cave Road, Vail.
This relatively new elementary school for the Vail School District, designed in 1990 by CNWC with Dominique Bonnamour-Lloyd as design architect, is remarkable for the synthesis of a modern aesthetic with responsiveness to regional factors. It is also proof that an extremely low budget can produce a good building that has continued to function extremely well. The shade canopies that encircle the central courtyard create an intimate space that protects small children and provides a cooler mircoclimate. With the straightforward plan, simple volumes and basic materials of concrete block and steel, the architect has provided variety in texture, color and shadow. Attention to detail gives the whole a well-crafted appearance.