(Photos: Brandi Porter)
The Warehouse District, just south of Downtown Phoenix, is becoming a center for innovation and entrepreneurial activity. It’s industrial, a little gritty, and happens to be on the city of Phoenix’s economic-development agenda.
From tech companies to artist studios — creative companies seeking untraditional work spaces are drawn toward these vintage warehouses.
Gould Evans and Canary Studio, an architecture firm and its in-house design studio, are two of them.
With wood trusses, stained concrete floors, original brick walls, hanging bike racks, and several (in)formal meeting spaces — their half of the building appears designed to maximize collaboration and creativity (the southern side has yet to be rented).
The national brand opened its Phoenix office 20 years ago. After outgrowing their previous space, the firm looked to a place where they could have a more direct impact on the community: Downtown Phoenix.
They wanted to be part of the densification of the area said Trudi Hummel, a principal architect at Gould Evans, and make a statement within the industry.
“We talk about how important it is to be impactful with architecture, and we decided we needed to be here,” she said.
After looking for new locations in Grand Avenue and other areas around downtown, the firm was especially captivated by the Warehouse District.
Hummel said they reoriented the entrance to the urban edge of the building, moving the main entrance from the parking lot to the street.
The loading dock area, toward the “back” of the property, was retrofitted with street-level windows and doors, a fundamental aspect of good urban design. Additionally, they built a deck along the north side of the building and added a doorway, so pedestrians can walk straight from the street inside the building.
“The energy is in the future,” Hummel said.
Before, they were tucked away in midtown. Now, they’re in the center of it all, said Sara Wheatcroft, marketing manager at Gould Evans.
They take staff field trips to Chase Field, ride company bikes to grab coffee, and are a short distance away from various local restaurants.
Bonus: They designed and furnished the place themselves — an architect’s dream according to Wheatcroft.
(In fact, their downtown studio recently made Arizona Real Estate Magazine’s list of best offices in the Valley.)
Graham Paper Company originally occupied the warehouse after it was built in 1949, and it’s now listed on the Phoenix Historic Property Register. It was slated to be a part of the 12-acre Jackson Street Entertainment District, which stalled in 2010 due to financial reasons.
Sixty five years later, the warehouse begins a new chapter. And its tenants, Gould Evans, hope other businesses will take the initiative to adaptively reuse old buildings, too.
“You have to take a risk on the sea of parking lots,” Hummel said. The hope is, “if we take the risk, maybe other people will too.”