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Best Architecture

Mission San Xavier del Bac
1950 W. San Xavier Road

READERS' PICK: The San Xavier Mission was founded back in the 1600s, and its original construction was completed somewhere in the neighborhood of 1776 and 1797. That's exactly 200 years in which to come up with a building of greater architectural character for our fair city. Alas, neither our readers nor our staff can. This does not bode well for Tucson, but it does make us grateful that in a place (and perhaps era) that has all but abandoned architecture as an expression of public art and civic duty, we at least have this historic gem at which we can absorb the beauty, dedication and grandeur that once was our heritage.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave. We don't know if Roy Place was familiar with the Bauhaus boys' revolutionary idea that form follows function when he designed the Pima County Courthouse in 1928, we're just happy he gave us a gem instead of a box. With its stunning tile mosaic dome, it's no wonder this building was the favorite exterior shot of the '70s television series Petrocelli, when Tucson was briefly transformed into the mythical San Remo. For those of us in real life, the lush courtyard graciously ignores social stratification, inviting everyone to walk through and let the greenery work its charms if only for a moment. Certainly Place, one of the few visionary architects in Tucson's long, pathetic history, understood that the most important function of a public space is to have a nice place to enjoy a sack lunch and forget about the office for awhile.

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