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February 24, 2014

Beadle-built and beloved in Arizona.

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Al Beadle. Photo by JJ Brinkman.

“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.”

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Beadle House No. 6 (1954), aka White Gates. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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Beadle House (1958), located around the corner from House No. 6. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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.

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Twelfth Street Office Building (1985), aka Wosco Building. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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Every Beadle project came with a piece of sculpture designed specifically for it. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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.”

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Professional Offices (1978) / Beadle's architectural studio. Photo by Peter Shikany.

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.

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The fraternal twin on the other end of the parking lot. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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Palo brea trees surround Beadle's former studio. Photo by Peter Shikany.

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.”

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Constructed on a 12-foot grid and very Beadle. Photo by Peter Shikany.

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.”

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Fifth Avenue Medical Building (1969). Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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Boardwalk Apartments (1963). Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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Three Fountains Apartments (1963). Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

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Beadle House No. 6 (1954) aka White Gates. Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

 

Comments

Nice article, Gwendolyn. Particularly good you included the picture of the 5th Ave. Medical building. A great building. It never gets the attention it deserves.

Thx so much for this fascinating article! I looked up Beadle for more info. Phoenix does an annual home tour. I signed up for next year.

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