Created by Del Webb, the legendary developer behind Sun City and the legendary Flamingo Las Vegas resort, Uptown Plaza was an instant Valley landmark when it opened in 1955. As the first shopping center outside of downtown Phoenix, Uptown Plaza included cutting-edge amenities such as complimentary on-site parking, sleek air-conditioned and glass-fronted retail stores, and neon-lit cursive signage above each store.
Located on the north east corner of Central Avenue and Camelback, the original tenants included Piggly-Wiggly supermarket, Bostrom’s department store, Jerand’s of Arizona fine fashions and Porters apparel, as well as restaurants such as the mid-century modern gem, Helsing’s Coffee Shop, and the super-swanking fine dining establishment, Navarre’s. Today Uptown Plaza combines mid-century modern charm with an irresistible mix of the best local and national retailers and restaurants, such as West Elm, Flower Child, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, AJ’s Fine Foods, Modernique, Muse Boutique, and Huss Brewing Company.
Chase Bank at 44th Street and Camelback
Chase’s bank branch located at 4401 E. Camelback was originally a Valley National Bank (Bank One’s predecessor) and was designed in 1968 by Frank Henry from the architectural firm Weaver and Drover. The modernist rock exterior with the dendriform (“tree-shaped”) columns makes it an unusual and notable site when driving through Arcadia. The floorplan is based on circles and curves, with bands of clerestory windows, and includes stonework inside and out. Within the interior there are five dendriform columns that appear to be holding up the floating ceiling, with a free-span of space underneath.
It’s a modernist building without the look of the traditionalist Modernist style. It doesn’t fit within the typical clean-lined steel and glass box, it’s not about structural purity, it doesn’t seem to belong to any year or style at all, and it defies categorization.
First Christian Church
Located at 6750 N 7th Avenue in Phoenix, the First Christian Church is an authentic, often under-appreciated, Frank Lloyd Wright building. It was first designed circa 1950 for another local client, which was intended to be a chapel on an extensive 80-acre campus. That client went bankrupt and the design was revived by First Christian in 1970. The tower will surely catch your eye as you drive down 7th Street. It stands 120 feet tall and is built to appear triangular from any viewpoint, although it isn’t. The two verticals are the tower and the steeple. The roof is foam and colored green to give the look of oxidized copper, which wasn’t used because copper would have been too expensive. Inside there’s a low-ceilinged entry, the signature Wright design, that creates a dramatic contrast when you step into the taller, expansive main space and can seat about a thousand people.
This was a major change from Wright’s original configuration. Wright had the pulpit in the center of the space, with seating in the round, and the minister standing centered directly below the system of beautiful blue skylights set into the high ceiling. On Sundays the sanctuary works very well and provides a comfortable balance within the space. The perimeter sanctuary walls are hard to describe, but they’ll be very familiar to those intimately acquainted with Wright’s design style.
*Source, Modern Phoenix