Kudos to Juddith Jacobi for her piece, “Paint the town . . . any color but brown,” Scottsdale Republic, August 18, 2011, regarding the drabness of Scottsdale’s new de rigueur “color,” brown, and its propensity to hold heat rather than reflect it as lighter colors would. Albeit she hit on the most recent problem of Scottsdale’s aspired bright shining city, it’s but one of many.
In his equally perceptive article on the need for great architecture, Scottsdale Republic, June 29, 2011, John J. Nichols raised an interesting point, regarding tourism. He astutely observed that affluent tourists, with disposable incomes, travel the world to see stunning architectural treasures; and suggested Scottsdale solicit an upper echelon of architects to submit proposals for WestWorld and the Desert Discovery Center.
Once upon a time, Scottsdale had several softly tinted courtyard plazas that it could be proud of. The Borgata and The Citadel were “destinations” Travel & Leisure and Town & Country once touted. However, The Borgata lost its allure. Questionable alterations transformed it into another bleak brown tract. Gone is the once soft beautiful hue. Gone is its mention in travel magazines. Now, it blends right in with the color of dust, dirt, gravel (desert ‘landscaping’) and the mountains. Brown isn’t even on the color wheel, and it holds heat, increasing air conditioner usage.
The once uplifting and handsome pale gray Citadel on the northwest corner of Pinnacle Peak and Pima, has reemerged in a new coat of . . . more . . . brown paint with the added defacement of fake stone with protruding thin metal ledges. It’s vying with the northeast corner in the ugly duckling contest. Design honesty comprehends that faux (fake) “stone” is tacky, and that only real stone should be used; preferably mortar-washed, as on the structure immediately south of Safeway in DC Ranch.
Scottsdale has no taste level or architectural concept. It has no “architectural treasures,” and has become a breeding ground for contrived structures with ‘eyebrow’ front entrances; many now empty. The questions posed by the council have always only been ‘how high and how wide’ . . . never “Let’s see the elevations and landscaping.” Miss Scottsdale walks into a dress shop, giving the clerk the correct width and length. When the clerk asks what style and color, she is told ‘it doesn’t matter.’
There is an urgent need for the council to establish an aesthetically qualified jury to approve the architectural style, color, material and landscape design of all new building designs and rehabs. If Scottsdale really wants to be an upscale sought-after city, it must decide whether it wants affluent visitors seeking upscale shops and lodging . . . or tourists looking for the “west’s most most western city.” The cowboy and cowgirl “art” cartoon characters’ western theme might do better regrouping to the WestWorld area in coordination with the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center rehab. If Downtown Scottsdale wants the concept of an upscale city with affluent visitors, it needs to start looking like one, and forgo the 50s’ “west’s most western city” slogan.