One of the troubles with Phoenix is that most of the metropolitan area has been built up over the past two decades or so. The result is a deadening sameness of off-the-shelf architecture for house-builders and retailers, the boxes you'd find in newer parts of anywhere, with some faux Spanish-Tuscan crap attached. This is added to plenty of boring cookie-cutter buildings erected from 1960 through the 1980s. And Phoenix has more than its share of prominent architectural disasters.
That's too bad because Phoenix was once known for its great architecture, from office and government buildings to the magical period-revival homes of the historic districts, and especially its effervescence as a capital of Mid-Century Modernism.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) established his Taliesin West architecture school and home far out of town in 1937. A few Wright houses are left here, although contrary to popular myth he didn't design the Arizona Biltmore. The great Wright commission executed here was intended as the Baghdad opera house. You know it as Grady Gammage Auditorium (above), built after Wright's death.
But many more applied their calling here. This is an incomplete list, and I'm sure our smart commenters will have more:
The Deco masters and classicists:
Royal Lescher (1882-1957) and Leslie Mahoney (1892-1985) are responsible for some of Phoenix's most majestic public buildings, especially the 1929 Art Deco Phoenix City Hall (Edward Neild of Shreveport worked with them on the Maricopa County Courthouse portion). Lescher & Mahoney also designed the Orpheum Theater, Brophy College Chapel, the U.S. Post Office at Central and Fillmore, El Zariba Shrine Auditorium (former home to the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum), the Phoenix Title and Trust Building (today's Orpheum Lofts), Hanny's, St. Joseph's Hospital, the Phoenix Civic Center, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the tragically lost Palms Theater and many schools and landmarks.
Lee Mason Fitzhugh (1877-1937) and Lester Byron (1889-1963). The firm of Fitzhugh & Byron was the architects behind such landmarks as First Baptist Church (finally being renovated), First Church of Christ, Scientist, George Washington Carver High School, and the Lois Grunow Memorial Clinic.
Albert Chase McArthur (1881-1951), a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, moved his practice from Chicago to Phoenix in 1925. Here he designed his most famous work, the Arizona Biltmore. Less well known is that McArthur also was the architect for several houses in the Phoenix Country Club estates and elsewhere.