Downtown Tempe is home to Hayden Flour Mill, built around 125 years ago in downtown Tempe, Arizona. It was re-established in 2010, but up until then, it was a worn-down, old building, that created an eyesore for passersby. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the beauty in tarnished, historical buildings, but this building was closed to the public and fenced in.
The abandoned structure was a common topic of conversation, as many wondered what was going to happen with this spooky building. Even city officials who gave guest lectures in my classes said there have been many proposals for this site, but they had simply not come to fruition. I suppose the trickiest part can be choosing urban design elements for this site that create some permanence in its unique desert environment.
As an architect, landscape architect, urban planner, or designer, it is natural to ask, “What would be a cool, interactive, community-centered space that could be integrated into this abandoned lot?” This question has a location-sensitive answer, nevertheless, an important one, as it will affect the future economy, setting, and interactions of that place. The city has decided to improve the space in order to make it attractive to developers.
This building has been re-designed into an events venue, where the community can gather. This renovation truly accomplishes everything a successful historical renovation should accomplish, plus more. It connects different districts of the downtown area, creating a focal point at the edge of one district and at the beginning of another. It creates a landmark and a sense of place for those who are already familiar with the area. The true test is waiting as we find out whether or not this renovation proves successful for the City of Tempe.
Hayden Flour Mill has been branding itself ever since my arrival to Tempe. Even my Tempe Library card was designed after Hayden Flour Mill, with its distinctive orange glow. Hayden Flour Mill has a Facebook page you can follow and like.
What is your best idea for an abandoned historical building right in the center of a youthful vibrant college town?
Credits: Image and data linked to sources.