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Observation Tower designed by BIG to metaphorically pin Phoenix on the map


Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has released images of their most recent design project – a 420ft-high observation tower in Phoenix, Arizona. Commissioned by local developers Novawest, the Danish/American practice has conceptualised a 70,000 sq ft public space with a small number of retail units, restaurant outlets and flexible exhibition space. Phoenix is renowned for its stunning natural terrain, its mountainous peaks drawing tourists in from around the world.

As Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner of BIG, explains: “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. Like the Guggenheim Museum of New York offers visitors a unique art experience descending around its central void, the motion at the Pin is turned inside-out allowing visitors to contemplate the surrounding city and landscape of Phoenix.”

As alluded to by Ingels, the Observation Tower or ‘Pin’ allows visitors to gaze across the local surroundings with 360° views. Three glass elevators transport users to the summit from which they can descend while taking in the panoramic views either to the central level where glass elevators will take them back to the base or further down to the lowest level of the spherical volume where they will encounter the retail and restaurant facilities. Instead of splitting levels in the conventional sense, BIG has inserted a gently angled platform which spirals downwards in a smooth promenade.

Brian Stowell of developers Novawest said of the project: “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. BIG has delivered something exceptional, blending form and function in a way that will change the local skyline forever and will give visitors a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”