Introducing Al Beadle, Famed Mid-Century Modern Phoenix Architect

Introducing Al Beadle, Famed Mid-Century Modern Phoenix Architect
Photo taken from “Constructions” by Bernard Michael Boyle; 2008

Al Beadle is one of the best-known mid-century modern Phoenix architects. His most famous local work is the Triad Apartments, built in 1962 as part of Art & Architecture magazine’s Case Study Houses program (as Case Study Apartment #1). Known to locals as “The Fishbowl,” it was the only housing built in Arizona for the project, which enlisted highly reputed modernist architects to design affordable, efficient model homes for the post-WWII housing boom. Around the same time in 1963, he also designed the Executive Towers, the tallest high-rise building in Phoenix at the time. Originally designed as apartments, the building was converted to condominiums in 1971 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

Some Background on Al Beadle

Beadle was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1927. He was trained in construction during WWII as a member of the US Navy Construction Battalion, also known as the Seabees. He went back to his home state after the war and started up a home-construction business. Then, in 1951, he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. He continued to work in design and construction, though he had to catch up later acquiring the required licenses.

From the mid 1950s through the mid 1960s, he practiced architecture as a partner at the firm Dailey & Associates. In 1967, he founded his own firm and really began to make his mark on the desert modernism style. His residential and commercial designs earned him national attention, and they won a number of awards from the likes of the American Institute of Architects, Architectural Record magazine, Institutions magazine, American Iron and Steel Institute, and AZ Aggregate Association. They’ve also been featured in national and international publications dedicated to architecture.

Al Beadle’s Mark on Phoenix

Beadle designed a number of landmarks in the Phoenix metro area. In addition to the two mentioned above, there was the Safari Hotel, for example. This popular Scottsdale resort was built in 1956 and—sadly—demolished in 1999. But longtime Phoenix-area residents certainly remember it.

From when he moved to Phoenix in 1951 up until his death in 1998, Beadle designed dozens of homes, office buildings, “Cafeterias” (a sort of upscale diner concept), shopping centers, and more in the region.

Beadle described his style succinctly—and a bit too simplistically—in a 1988 interview with a small Phoenix-area newspaper (Carefree Enterprise) when he said, “I’m known as the steel and glass man. I won’t deviate from that too much.”

He was exceptionally dedicated to simplicity in design though, as was common in the modernist movement of the times. His homes even became known as “Beadle Boxes,” being rectilinear with steel frames and flat roofs. But—also as is typical for mid-century modern architecture and design—there’s an undeniable elegance and beauty to the simplicity of the structures.

Beadle was a major proponent of the International Style. It originated after WWI in France, Germany, and Holland, and it had a significant influence on mid-century modern architects in the US and elsewhere, Beadle included. Some hallmarks of the style include heavy use of modular forms, alternating flat and glass surfaces, forgoing anything ornamental or colorful, and using lightweight industrial materials. These elements can be seen in Beadle’s home designs.

Home designs by Beadle tend to be somewhat austere. He got more playful with some of his commercial designs, particularly those for the dining and hospitality industries. His homes were often built on foothills or washes and were set on raised platforms.

Interested in Buying a Beadle Home in Phoenix?

If you’re hoping to purchase a Phoenix-area home designed by Al Beadle, use the “Architect” filter on our home search tool. It is quite rare that a Beadle home comes onto the market, but working with us gives you the best chance to make one yours. In addition to single family homes there are some terrific options in condominiums and townhouses he designed. All you have to do is get in touch.

Interested in Selling Your Beadle Home in Phoenix?

If you’re one of the lucky ones who own a Beadle home in the area, it’s so important to entrust the sale of your home to a real estate agent who understands exactly what you have and what it’s worth—even beyond its monetary value. That’s us.

We’re dedicated to making sure homes like yours stay in the possession of people who will love and preserve them the way they deserve. Get in touch with us today.

Selling or buying a mid-century modern home in Phoenix?

There's nobody better to help make the process as simple and successful as possible. Contact us today. We look forward to speaking with you!

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By Ryan Smith

The founder and president of Mid Mod Phoenix, Ryan is passionate about mid-century modern architecture, real estate, modernism, restoring homes, designing beautiful living spaces, ASU, and enjoying life in the Valley of the Sun. To learn more about any of these topics, get in touch with him at ryan@midmodernphoenix.com.

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