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Desert Rendering

Innovative architecture projects spring up around the Airpark

This summer, any conversation about the st.ate of architecture in the Airpark is going to be dominated by the $27 million renovation of the Scottsdale Airport itself. The aviation hub and economic engine is the city’s front door, and no one is more aware of making a good first impression than its lead architect, Mike Braun of DWL Architects + Planners. But design fans also will excitedly point to other recent innovative projects in North Scottsdale, such as Artie Vigil’s Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired vision for The Vig at McDowell Mountain. And the way that Optima Inc. is redefining luxury multi-family housing with Optima Kierland.

Buckle Up

Mike Braun says the airport renovation and redesign is all about maximizing Scotts­dale’s brand – a world-class community with world-class services and amenities. A brand-new terminal and modern business center will replace the old terminal and business center. Two new 30,000-square­foot hangars with 28-foot doors will easily accommodate today’s larger executive jets. The hangars will have direct runway access and their own private fuel operation. Braun says DWL’s previous work up­dating Falcon Field in Mesa and parts of Sky Harbor drilled home the ii.mportance of designing ways to keep the Scottsdale Airport operational while demolition and new construction take place. The Zulu Cafe will soar to new heights by transforming into a destination -Volanti -a seven-day-a-week, breakfast/lunch/ dinner venue with plenty of room to hold hangar banquets and provide private jet catering. An expansive glass wall and public patio will capture views of the mountains and runways to the north of the facility, Braun says. Pre-cast concrete walls on the south and west elevations will moderate the sun’s rays and anchor the project to its desert location. Braun says he’s also excited to design the Thunderbird Field II Plaza portion of the project. The memorial came late to the planning table, but thanks to the years-long, determined efforts of former airport advi­sory commissioner Steve Ziomek and his corps of volunteers, it will become a reality. The park-like plaza will feature a vintage Boeing-Stearman PT-17 and other artifacts, giving Scottsdale families yet another opportunity to engage with the airport and its rich past as a World War II flight training ground. “It’s more than just an airport,” Braun says. “We’ re telling a story about what the airport was and what it’s doing for the community today.”

Keeping Vigil

Architect Artie Vigil isn’t into suburbs or strip malls. He designs spaces that are connected, integrated, walkable. He likes rehabbing old buildings. He doesn’t go gaga over new dirt – usually. But when his old friends at Genuine Concepts approached him about creating a fifth Vig at McDowell Mountain – less than a mile from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trailhead center – Vigil and his team saw the possibilities. Inspired by Taliesin West, Vigil crafted an organic, prairie-style neighborhood hangout that’s sort of a cross between a hipster cocktail mecca and a hiker outpost. The 13,000-square-foot venue’s open interior is matched by its generous outdoor gathering spaces and will become a magnet for community gatherings, Vigil says. The Vig at McCormick Ranch didn’t have that luxury of space, he reflects. “We may have overcompensated in this situation.” Currently on a March-October research sabbatical in London, Lisbon, Budapest, Marrakesh and other world design capitals, Vigil will return to the Valley with photos and notebooks jammed with new ideas. Building on his past work with infill projects in Phoenix and downtown Scotts­dale and Gilbert, Vigil says he’ll keep trying to move the needle in suburban Scottsdale. He wants to see seniors living next door to Millennials, interacting at transit stops, sidewalks, parks and nightlife spots – like The Vig. “Scottsdale is learning,” Vigil says. “It’s a young city. It has a unique environment, pride of place. How do we capitalize on that?”

Going Vertical

After blasting through prelimi­nary sales goals, Optima Inc. is hard at work on construction of Optima Kierland’s first 12-story condo­minium tower. Tenants have been moving into the 150-unit leasing tower since April. It offers studio to three-bedroom apartments. Ultimately, there will be four towers situated on the 9.5-acre property at Scottsdale Road and Kierland Boulevard. The towers have an edgy, geo­metric design and will feature extensive hanging gardens built into the balconies -similar to high­rises Optima has built in Central Scottsdale. Residents of each tower will enjoy a rooftop infinity-style pool and a full-service fitness center, among many other amenities. The condo tower provides one- to five­bedroom homes starting in the low $300s. It was designed for a maximum of 220 homes, but there will be fewer because some buyers want to combine two or three units for more space. One client will merge four units into a luxurious 4,111-square-foot home. Aside from being a $500 million boost to the economy, Optima Kierland’ s true significance might be in the way that it could subtly shift the dynamics of the North Scottsdale housing market. A number of buyers, according to Optima president David Hovey Jr., are trading their golf course homes and single-family desert estates for the opportunity to be in midst of the bustling North Scottsdale urban core.


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