Phoenix Museum of History

  • The Phoenix Museum of History - a pilot project in an ambitious revitalization program for downtown Phoenix - nestles within a sloping earth-covered ramp and beneath a new public park. Located on a site traditionally used for many public gatherings, it gives back to the city virtually all of the land that would have been taken away by a more traditional design. Rising to a height of fifty feet, the earth-covered ramp in front of the museum shields from view an existing convention center located directly behind the site while providing unobstructed views from the park of the surrounding scenery. Visitors relaxing in the inclined garden can see a collection of existing historical houses which face the museum, as if these houses had been naturally integrated as one of the museum exhibits.
  • Structural elements beneath this slope are shared by the museum and the 800-car parking garage, helping to keep costs within a very limited budget. Little visible architecture protrudes above the slope except for one sinuous wall delineating a free-form L shape like a sheer cliff face. Triangular wall sections functioning like buttresses of the indigenous adobe architecture protrude into the center courtyard and leave openings that allow light to flood into the gallery space behind. The two sides of the oval courtyard meet in a circular double-height lobby where visitors experience the sensation of descending deep within the earth as the slope rises around them.

project information

location:   Phoenix, Arizona, USA
client:   City of Phoenix
cost:   $8 Million
date:   1992
area:   40,000 sq ft