Quick: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words Statue of Liberty? How about Golden Gate Bridge? The Hollywood sign? The Space Needle? The Gateway Arch? The Willis Tower? The Capitol building?

All right, now let’s do this in reverse. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Phoenix?

You’d be forgiven for drawing a blank, but, in a few years, America’s sixth-largest city may finally have a symbol of its own: the $60 million pushpin-shaped Phoenix Observation Tower. The unique form represents what the designers call a “metaphoric pin on a map firmly marking the location,” providing Phoenix with a structure that’s “instantly iconic.”

“This is the right place and the right time for a signature project for downtown Phoenix, and we knew the design needed to be something extraordinary,” enthused Brian Stowell, managing partner of local developer Novawest, which commissioned the project and hopes to build it on the science and technology campus adjacent to the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix.

The lollipoplike design comes from the Copenhagen- and New York-based firm Bjarke Ingels Group, or BIG, which unveiled its plans for the 430-foot-tall, 70,000-square-foot tower late last month.

Arizona’s second-tallest building would feature a bar and cafe, high-end restaurant, event space, galleries, an evening lounge and nightclub. Visitors would access the spherical observation area via one of three glass elevators before spiraling down through the different levels.

The design pays homage to New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where circular ramps lead people up while drawing their eyes toward the center. In the Phoenix Observation Tower, the concept is turned inside out, with the focus placed on the view of the surrounding land.

“Like the monsoons, the haboobs, and the mountains of the surrounding Arizonian landscape, the Pin becomes a point of reference and a mechanism to set the landscape in motion through the movement of the spectator,” explained BIG founder Bjarke Ingles. “Like a heavenly body hovering above the city, the Pin will allow visitors to descend from pole to pole in a dynamic three-dimensional experience seemingly suspended in midair.”

The ground below the tower would become a shaded plaza with water features and shops, along with a subterranean queuing area.

Of course, the developer has to secure financing and submit the plans to the city before any pushpin graces the Phoenix skyline.

"Novawest has contacted the city regarding their concept,” the city said in a statement. “It is a unique concept and we have asked them for project details to support the feasibility of the project. As of yet, we do not have any plans submitted or a specific site selected."

Novawest said it is optimistic that it can break ground by as early as August of this year and have the structure completed by 2015 when nearby Glendale hosts Super Bowl XLIX at the University of Phoenix Stadium.



Photos courtesy of Novawest via BIG