“If visual pollution were toxic, we’d all be dead,” said architect Alfred Newman Beadle (1927–1998). A curmudgeon and perfectionist, the always-dressed-in-black Beadle also had a romantic side, believing that “every house should have a surprise for its owners.”
Recognized today as one of Arizona’s best architects, Beadle began his career as a builder in 1950. He never attended architecture school and never intended on being anything more than a builder. Fortunately, for those who live in and love his houses, he started designing.
Unafraid of lots deemed “impossible” by other architects, Beadle brought Miesian modernist structures to the desert landscape in ingenious ways. Praise and criticism were brushed aside with equal disdain, and if addressed at all, he’d offer, “the lot told me what it wants.”
While many of Beadle’s buildings hover above the ground plane, he could also go to the other extreme. His former architectural studio, for example, is built into the ground with mounds of earth and rocks pushed high against each wall. The bunker-like office peeks out of the earth, watching potential visitors miss it on the first pass, stop at its all-white fraternal twin across the parking lot, turn around, and realize their mistake.
Purchased by Peter Shikany in 2008, Beadle’s former studio is now occupied by the graphic design and advertising firm P.S. Studios. “I’m attracted to his work,” says Shikany. “He had this minimal, modular, logical approach. His buildings feel good to me.”
Beadle designed and built residences, hotels, banks, restaurants and apartment buildings, including Case Study Apartment No. 1 (1964), one of the few multifamily dwellings in the Case Study House Program and the only CSH project built outside of California. While most of his work is in Arizona, he also had projects in California, Illinois, New Mexico and Utah. Over his five-decade career, Beadle completed more than 80 residences and 80 commercial buildings, but never once solicited work. “When you solicit work,” wrote Beadle in 1993, “you share your pencil – something I’ve never been willing to do.”