Tempe treasures the inverted pyramid-shaped building that's served as City Hall for nearly 50 years and is regarded as an eye-catching landmark in the Phoenix suburb.
But officials say it's time for major renovations to reconfigure interior spaces and upgrade its communications system and other fittings.
The three-story building hasn't been updated since the late 1980s, and Tempe plans a four-stage fixup project over the next decade at a cost of about $10 million, the Arizona Republic reported.
The building was billed as a "lantern to the community" when it opened in 1971, but former Mayor Harry Mitchell, a City Council member at the time, acknowledges that the interior now needs repairs and mechanical issues need addressing.
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But, for Mitchell and others, the exterior remains timeless.
"I used to brag about working in this building. How many people can say they worked in an upside-down pyramid?" he said. "I would be devastated if something happened to it."
When a new city hall was authorized by the City Council in 1968, the hope was that it would become a symbol of the city's confidence in downtown and push redevelopment of the area.
Ideas were bandied about, from a Spanish colonial revival-style building to a massive concrete structure similar to Boston City Hall, but local architect Michael Goodwin came up with the pyramid idea when he was contracted to design the building.
Goodwin thought of the upside-down pyramid shape while taking a shower and seeing how light streamed across glass at a 45-degree angle.
"Intrigued, he began tracing the shape in the shower mist while imagining a building configuration that would allow for unimpeded public access on the lower level and provide the required office spaces above, while simultaneously shading itself from the intense sun," architect and historian Mark Vinson wrote in a book about East Valley mid-century architecture.
Crews broke ground on the inverted pyramid in 1968 and construction on the $2.25 million building was completed in October 1971.
The inverted pyramid is energy efficient, with the garden level typically 10 degrees cooler than the surface level, said Hunter Hansen, a project management coordinator in the Community Development Department.
The steel and glass building is set on an elevated podium surrounded by a sunken garden courtyard. The exterior walls are sloped at a 45-degree angle.