It’s been nearly a decade in the making, but in just a few short days, R & R Partners will be realizing their adaptive reuse dream by moving into their new digs in the Warehouse District. R & R is a communications agency with nine offices around the country, including Phoenix where they’ve operated for 18 years.
The new offices will be relocated to two adjoined warehouses on the southwest corner of 2nd Street and Buchanan, just south of the railroad tracks. The first of the two warehouses was built in 1926 and the second, just inches away, was completed in 1928, by Henry Ong, Sr.
Mr. Ong had opened a store on the corner of 2nd Street and Buchanan in 1915, and a few years later bought the property surrounding the store as investment property. Chinatown was just north of the railroad tracks where America West Arena stands now. He was a smart businessman who made sure that the railroad built a line directly to the buildings, knowing it would make it a more valuable location for businesses that needed to ship goods. Mr. Ong’s investment foresight made him a prominent business leader and one of the original eight founders of the Arizona Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
R & R is creating a special area in the building where the Ong family will be celebrated with historic photographs and information. Mr. Ong, Jr. shares more of his father’s history in this short video.
Mr. Ong sold the property in the late fifties and the buildings changed hands over the ensuing years. In 2007, R & R Partners purchased the historic warehouses and began to plan for giving them new life as their Phoenix headquarters.
R & R contracted with CCBG Architects to work closely with the City’s historic preservation office, along with state and federal preservation entities, to meet all of the historic preservation requirements. And they’ve done a meticulous job.
Matt Silverman, VP and Managing Director of R & R’s Phoenix branch is clearly proud of what they’ve accomplished. “Every little detail hasn’t been missed,” said Silverman, as we started our tour on the sidewalk outside. “Looking at the windows for example, the color on the trim and the bars has all been restored to what it was.”
Gesturing to a a soft brown stripe that goes across the top of the building, Silverman points out the details. “There was a yellow stripe there with lettering for the Trombetta Bros., one of the last active produce businesses in the buildings. The yellow was not original; it was something that business had done. We painted over the yellow, but we cannot replace the sign with a new sign, so we will use old style, painted lettering for our new sign.”
Loading docks have been left and, where needed, re-purposed into entryways for the building. Your eye is immediately drawn to the edges of the entryway where the aggregate from the original concrete has been cut through to accommodate the new use. The rocks in the aggregate are all the colors of the desert and it is stunning both in its natural beauty and its connection to this place.
Once you enter the building, that sense of place is reinforced everywhere you look. The walls are exposed brick and the ceiling has an old industrial skylight and weathered gray trusses. Lead architect on the project, Marty Ball, points out that the many of the trusses were broken. Since they couldn’t be removed, they chose to very subtly bolster the old trusses by creating new trusses side by side and painting them the same soft gray. Unless you are looking closely, you do not notice the double trusses.
In one side of the building they were able to successfully remove much of the white paint that covered the original brick, but in other parts, the brick was too delicate and the paint was left, showing that honoring the past of the building is less about bringing it back to its absolute original condition and more about accommodating where history has made an indelible mark.
In order to re-purpose the buildings as office space, perhaps the biggest change to the interior is the large hole that was cut to open things up and create a bottom floor. The new stairwell enables them to make use of the original basement and bring light into the space. The basement ceilings are only eight feet high, so Ball designed ingenious wooden panels that soften space, provide a platform for lighting and hide cabling and infrastructure needed for office space. The panels accommodate the needs of the space without lowering the already low ceiling.
In some areas, like the basement, carpeting has been laid on top of the concrete floor to make it more usable as office space, and in other areas the original concrete floors have been cleaned and slightly polished. This kind of care has been taken throughout the building. Throughout the entire space Ball has done a remarkable job of leaving the industrial character as much as possible, and contrasting new material with old to make the space work for its new purpose.
R & R will move into the space on November 17 and Silverman promises an open house sometime in the first quarter of the new year. In the meantime, you can see the progress and learn more about the history of the building on the project’s website.
Downtown Phoenix is a great place to celebrate any occasion, and Riette Pretorius Bartlett, owner and senior events coordinator for Downtown Phoenix Venues, knows this perhaps better than anyone.
Since 2010, she and her team have helped their clients host memorable events, including weddings and corporate parties in some of downtown’s most memorable spaces. From restored warehouses to art galleries, these venues features unique historical and architectural elements that automatically infuse a sense of culture and style into any event.
As Pretorius Bartlett points out, “none of these spaces were built to be wedding or event venues, making them different and unique. They all have a separate purpose. One was a laundry, a literal ice house, a mart, they just happen to have the right amount of open space for private events . . . these building are all around 100 years old. It is such a treat for visitors and Phoenicians to see true history, and to host an event within a space like that.”
In managing these spaces, the team at Downtown Phoenix Venues aim to go above and beyond to make their clients’ dreams a reality – from helping them stay organized, to vendor recommendations, to helping to keep their timeline on course. “We really want our clients to walk away thrilled,” says Pretorius Bartlett.
Within the Downtown Phoenix core, you’ll find a wide variety of locations that will make any event a special one. As Pretorius Bartlett notes, “these spaces are a destination on their own, well worth the trip to see a bit of Arizona history.”
Below is the list of spaces that Downtown Phoenix Venues has to offer, along with a sampling of other unique special event locations within the downtown Phoenix area.
AVAILABLE THROUGH DOWNTOWN PHOENIX VENUES
Venue: The Icehouse
Location: 5th Avenue & Jackson
Vibe: “One word: raw. This historic space is absolutely unique and the years have left it close to its original look. The roofless cathedral room is like no other space in the valley, truly extraordinary.”
Venue: Bentley Projects
Location: 3rd St. & Grant
Vibe: “Raw, but polished, with the white walls, exposed red bricks, wooden bow truss ceilings and world class art on the walls. This space is the perfect balance between raw and polished to please both the young and old.”
Venue: Phoenix Merchandise Mart
Location: 1st St. & Jackson
Vibe: Former location of Phoenix Merchandise Mart in 1946: “Like being in a downtown Brooklyn building.”
Venue: Red Bricks on 7th Street
Location: 1st St. & Jackson
Vibe: “This intimate brick building has more of a woman’s touch with it hosting an in-house florist. They have beautiful exposed bricks with repurposed pallets, giving it a more delicate touch.”
Venue: Legend City
Location: 7th Ave. & Van Buren
Vibe: “Owned by 4 creative men (3 photographers and 1 painting artist,) this space has the clean white walls of Bentley and also the exposed brick. This intimate space is perfect for smaller events.”
ADDITIONAL VENUES IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX
Venue: The Duce
Location: Warehouse district – 525 S Central Ave. Corner of Lincoln & Central
Vibe: Restored 1928 warehouse featuring vintage soda fountain, bar, and airstream trailer. The feel: “authentic, vintage, retro, comfy and cool.”
Contact: Steve Rosenstein, Co-Owner. 480 650 9160 or email@example.com
Venue: Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Location: Downtown Phoenix – 7th Street & Van Buren.
Capacity: Up to 1,250 guests
Vibe: “A special events venue with historic elegance and contemporary cool. It’s not just for the children; it’s for the child in all of us.”
Contact: Alex Wurth, Special Events Manager. 602.648.2747 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Venue: Arizona Science Center
Location: 600 E Washington St. – 7th Street & Washington
Vibe: “Arizona Science Center is the perfect, modern science-y backdrop to your special day. Immerse and interact with loved ones in a futuristic setting unique to you!”
Contact: Emily Gagnon, Sales & Events Manager. 602-716-2021 or email@example.com
Venue: Phoenix Art Museum
Location: 1625 N. Central Ave. – Central & McDowell
Capacity: For receptions: up to 250 with dancing; For ceremonies: up to 150
Vibe: “The space is architecturally special. Cummings Great Hall has 27ft ceilings with large-scale contemporary art and a dramatic lobby for arrivals. The Dorrance Sculpture Garden is an enclosed urban oasis for ceremonies. Photo-ops abound. Year-round climate control of 72 degrees.”
Contact: Events Department. (602)307-2019 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Roosevelt Row – between 2nd & 3rd street
Capacity: 250+, depending on season. 150 for seated reception.
Vibe: “The monOrchid is well-known in the Downtown Phoenix Arts District as a modern industrial chic gallery which offers its visitors a one of a kind urban experience. With masonry walls and soaring natural wood bow trusses, the historic remodeled warehouse is a truly unique place which can accommodate any event ranging from large receptions with musical performances, to intimate sit-down dinners, weddings, receptions, business meetings, photo & film shoots, fashion shows, and fundraisers.”
Contact: Ashton Brown. 602.253.0339 or ashton@monOrchid.com
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CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD OF ARIZONA NEGOTIATES TUFT & NEEDLE RELOCATION TO WAREHOUSE DISTRICT IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX
Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc. negotiated a 5-year lease as Tuft & Needle relocates from Tempe to a 5,100-square foot facility at 605 E. Grant St.
Tuft & Needle designs and manufactures a line of mattress that is exclusively available online and ships right to the door of the customer. According to Entrepreneur magazine, Tuft & Needle’s mattresses are the top-rated product in Amazon’s furniture category. The company was co-founded by John-Thomas Marino and Daehee Park, who formerly worked together at a Silicon Valley software
“We really enjoyed working with Daehee and JT on this assignment,” Ryan Bartos said. “It is always fun to watch a startup begin to scale, and we’re happy to be a part of that growth. They’re doing great things and we can’t wait to see what’s next for Tuft & Needle.”
Bartos and Matt Coxhead of Cushman & Wakefield represented Tuft & Needle in the lease transaction. The landlord, Michael Levine, was self-represented.
“As a Phoenix-based startup, we’re excited to partner with people like Ryan Bartos, Matt Coxhead and Michael Levine who share a genuine passion and vision for local entrepreneurship.” Daehee said. “The Levine Machine is an amazing building with a lot of history and character where we’ll continue building the best mattress company in the world.”
Images courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield.
About 150 people gathered at ASU School of Art‘s new Grant Street Studios last Tuesday, hosted by ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, for RadiatePHX – a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders produced by Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal.
The focus for this month’s gathering was a celebration of both ASU’s new digs in the Warehouse District, and the overall impact of the arts in downtown.
As we all know by now, two major sports events, the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, will be coming to the Valley in late January and early February. Our favorite city will be flooded with media from around the country visiting Super Bowl Central right here in downtown.
As a community, we want to share the compelling stories that define our downtown spirit with visitors, whether they be from across the country or across the Valley.
So what exactly are the stories we will be telling?
The City of Phoenix and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are convening committees in preparation for the festivities, and the marketing and media committee is helping identify the many things to do while here in Phoenix.
So, we decided to ask the gathered crowd at RadiatePHX to help identify the art and culture stories that people care about the most. It was a simple, non-scientific poll, but it garnered interesting results.
To simplify the polling, we created six overarching categories: visual art, performing art, literary art, architecture and historic preservation, and public art. In addition, we provided a “write-in” category to capture anything that didn’t quite fit in the those categories. Everyone who attended received tickets to vote in the category of their choice. Participation was brisk and the results were telling.
Visual Art: 48
Architecture/Historic Preservation: 57
Literary Art: 9
Performing Art: 37
Public Art: 61
Public art, along with architecture and historic preservation, were the two categories that came out on top. Again, it was an entirely unscientific poll, but the “public” nature of both of those choices seems to indicate that people are increasingly aware of the value of public spaces in making our city remarkable. Beautiful public spaces to move through, along with a diverse range artistic and cultural events to choose from are clearly points of pride that we all agree deserve to be shared.
The write-in category received a handful of ideas. Some were related to the arts categories above, some were specific events, and some had a temporary or “pop-up” theme. Most of the write-in suggestions resonated with the overall bent toward activated public spaces.
What do you think of the results? If you weren’t able to attend our September RadiatePHX, what categories would you have chosen?
Comment below and join in the effort to build a list of “must experience” arts places and events that will show the world what matters to those of us who live, work and play in downtown.
And be sure to join us in October, and on the third Tuesday of every month, for RadiatePHX.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
ASU Art Museum receives $144k Museums for America grant from IMLS
The ASU Art Museum is the recipient of a $144,000 Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in support of the museum’s International Artist Residency Program at Combine Studios.
With this grant funding, the ASU Art Museum will commission three international artists to develop collaborative art projects with community-based partners to allow for direct engagement with diverse communities and encourage active participation in the creative process. As part of the museum’s International Artist Residency Program at Combine Studios, artists will be integrated into the community to work alongside social service agencies, community organizations, university departments, residents, artists and students to generate artistic ideas. Each artist in residence will connect to the community through exhibitions, publications, performances, events, lectures, discussions, new community engagement and collaborations. The flow and exchange of artistic ideas will create new audiences, engaged partners and supporters of the museum as a catalyst for change in the community.
“The ASU Art Museum, in all of its work, but particularly through its national and internationally supported residency program, exemplifies much of what the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the New American University are,” says Gordon Knox, the ASU Art Museum’s director (pictured right). “Our visiting artists engage in cross-departmental collaborations and socially embedded projects that have tangible impact on the region, empowering communities and advancing critical reappraisals of some of this generation’s most pressing challenges. Bringing some of the art world’s most innovative thinkers to the Valley and giving them the time and support to engage with the local community in the production of new artist-led investigations demonstrate how ASU is putting new ideas into action while advancing research and educating the next generation. The ASU Art Museum’s work, and support such as this grant, exemplifies and makes concrete core aspirations of ASU and the Herberger Institute.”
Established in 2011, the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program brings accomplished professional artists from around the world to develop new work in partnership with the intellectual resources of Arizona State University and the diverse communities within Arizona. Through the program, artists develop work that investigates the pressing issues of our time in collaboration with scientists, technologists, social agencies and community organizations.
Images courtesy of ASU Art Museum