Historic Preservation: Luhrs Tower

Here at Serbin Studio we like historic architecture. I was in downtown Phoenix a couple weeks ago and went inside the historic Luhrs Tower.  Just for fun.   It was the art-deco elevator door detail, the ornately painted ceiling beams and round button chandelier that enticed me to climb up the tight stair case that was behind the elevators. The finishes were consistent on all floors and walls so I had no sense of differentiation per floor.

IMG_6704   IMG_6837

At the top of each stair landing was a restroom either Men or Women alternating every other floor.  The co-workers must have had a tight knit social environment rubbing shoulders walking the stairs and waiting for the coast to clear until exiting the restroom.  The drinking fountains are original and so tiny that potted plants have taken residency.  One of the landings had a functioning office reception.  A few framed vintage Life Magazine covers were equally spaced behind a dark wooden desk.  I was surprised a gum chewing receptionist wearing a polka dot dress hiding spectators under the desk didn’t look up at me.  You must understand this building is an icon situated in the down town core of Phoenix, Arizona. As a German immigrant, George H.N. Luhrs came to Phoenix in 1878 and commissioned the art-deco Luhrs Tower in 1929.  It has a sibling, The Luhrs Building, a block away on Central Avenue and Jefferson Street.

IMG_6770   IMG_6747

With new city center projects erupting these days, I believe that it is important to preserve what history we do have in Phoenix.  The photo above on the left is what I like to see.  The complex fussy detail against the sleek gray panels of the high rise in construction. The building skin on the gray modern building sheds all unnecessary detail, it is about efficiency for the height of the structure.  The detail on the metal and glass canopy of The Luhrs Building is closer to the eye so it has more detail, it was modern for it’s time.

luhrs_01    IMG_6822

The upper double digit floors had the most current construction activity.  Simple renovations like replacing deteriorated window and door frames with mahogany to match the existing finish the interior throughout.  I loved the restroom doors too even though they practically opened out into the stair enclosure.  Who paints gold leaf letters on glass anymore, and that “O” is too cool.

IMG_6728   IMG_6732

The fish scale black and white tiles are wonderfully decayed.  The tiles were being replaced with like replacements.  One of the windows in the renovation clutter was left ajar and so I captured the view looking towards South Mountain.  This is probably more what it looked like when it was first built.  Back in the day, the Luhrs Tower was one of the tallest buildings in downtown Phoenix.  I felt great appreciation for the care taker of the Luhrs Tower as I explored as high as I could climb up those marble steps.

Office Design – Sliding or swinging doors

Swinging vs. sliding doors, what is your option?

The Perfect Customer Lounge

What are the key ingredients to a good customer lounge? Taking a break from the daily grind is important.  Getting up from your chair, your cubicle or just out of your working environment and relaxing your eyes on a different environment other than the screen 1...

Tenant Improvements

You are either looking or just leased a space or own an existing building and have a few changes you want to make.  The first step is to hire a design professional who can make your project successful.  Whether it’s relocating a few interior walls, a complete...


“A small effort made towards completion of a much larger task” What about Bob? (1991) Comedy staring Bill Murray.  (Movie Clip) Dave Ramsey’s – “Baby steps into financial freedom”.  I need some of this. UrbanDictionary.com  ...

Parking spaces. How many do I need?

Are you planning on a new building or a tenant improvement.  Wondering how many parking spaces do I need?   Whether it is for a small office, retail, mercantile, restaurant or something even larger, like a large sport complex?   Number of...

Touchless Technology in Architecture

Touchless Technology for Architecture has been around for many years. We have seen this technology show up in door hardware & bathroom fixtures. All this technology can change the way architecture is designed. In designing the built environment, Architects need to...

Open Stair Treads

When is an open stair tread allowed?

Steel Art Downtown Buckeye

Anthony Miglio and Jonathan Celaya The steel public art work of desert flora and fauna has been underway for 2 years. It is exciting to see thick steel turned into recognizable barrel cactus, prickly pear, saguaro and ocotillo. In a short while you will be crossing...

Conference Room Interior Design

Conference Room Interior Design If conference room walls could talk.  Designed to hold confidential conversation behind closed doors, these spaces must be adequately sized, comfortable and designed to allow people to connect.  Flexibility is key in a facility where a...

Small commercial space, is one bathroom enough?

Are you planning on a tenant improvement and looking at leasing an existing space?   Whether it is for a small office, retail, mercantile or restaurant in a small commercial space, is one bathroom enough? In a large building, may not big a big concern, as the...

Minimum Size of a Bathroom

What is the Minimum size of a Bathroom?  Does you current room meet ADA and building codes requirements?  Are you building a new Bathroom and unsure of the correct size?  Clearance and maneuverability is the driving factor to the size of a Bathroom.  In a large...

Do I need a Drinking Fountain?

Do I need a drinking fountain?  As an Architect, I interact with clients, engineers and contractors who have acquired bits of information about Building Codes.  Sometimes, those bits are misconceptions and regurgitated information.  The building codes can be...