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SPECIAL REPORT 2019

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

SWAIM ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS

MAKING ITS MARK FOR 50 YEARS


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Designing Tucson Swaim Associates Making Its Mark for 50 Years

Throughout its 50 years in business, Swaim Associates has set a priority on designing buildings that fit the client and the Tucson community. There is no architectural style that says “Swaim.” That has been its timeless philosophy from the day the firm opened in 1969, when it concentrated on residential work, to today’s range of projects including some of Tucson’s landmark buildings. “We have a wide range of projects,” said Phil Swaim, partner and son of the company’s founder, Bob Swaim. “When evaluating a potential project, we ask, ‘What impact will it have on the community?’ We love education and healthcare projects because of the importance in peoples’ lives.” “For schools and community centers, we try to expand and partner with other groups such as city parks and recreation,” said partner Kevin Barber, adding that it can result in expanding the usage of a school playground to include playing fields open to all residents. “We often reach out to the community when we design a project. That commitment to community involvement makes a project more successful.” www.BizTucson.com

Partner Mark Bollard pointed out that no matter what the size, each project is important to the client. “Small projects are just as important to them – the users – so they deserve the same level of service from us.” Beyond the Drawing Board

No matter what type of job it is, Swaim principals are active throughout an entire project, even working with contractors on the site. “We’re working on a pharmacy project at Oro Valley Hospital,” Bollard said. “I took measurements, oversaw drawings, will person-

ally monitor the bidding process, and I’ll work with the owner and contractor until it is implemented and passes final requirements. This is a personal commitment that we implement on all projects.” That commitment is, in part, what wins Swaim Associates so many jobs and repeat customers, Bollard said. “As an example, we’ve had TUSD (Tucson Unified School District) projects consistently for 32 years. They trust our process and our commitment to their projects.” Phil Swaim is quick to point to the quality and knowledge of his staff and how the newer members learn by being hands-on. “We get the younger folks involved so they see the construction sites and they become more engaged. They hear how we deal with contractors on problems and opportunities. Some were interns with us while at UA and then we hired them.” No Boundaries

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PHOTOS: BRENT G. MATHIS

By Christy Krueger


BizCONSTRUCTION continued from page 71 the U.S. and internationally. “Our work with Vail School District to design an all-laptop-no-textbook digital school led to the opportunity to design a school in Jamaica,” Swaim said. “We have a reputation in wellness and student health centers,” which began with the University of Arizona Student Health Center. “We’ve done them at universities around the country.” Swaim Associates’ architects are strong believers in going outside the design box to help clients pull the project together and enhance its function.

This includes helping them find and analyze a site, studying watershed and flood-plain issues, bringing in specialists, working through political and/or neighborhood concerns, performing feasibility studies, and even leading visioning sessions where clients can reassess how their physical environment can impact their business in positive ways. “Our goal is to expand our clients’ minds about how they live, work, learn and play,” Swaim said. In the Game

In a community with a major college athletic program, professional sports,

plus a youth sports environment involving thousands of kids, athletics has become big business for Swaim. If you’ve been to a UA game, a Tucson Roadrunners hockey game, or had a kid in soccer, basketball, softball, baseball or swimming, the likelihood is high you’ve been at facility designed by the firm. “It started with high school fields and stadiums, and Brandi Fenton Memorial Park,” Swaim said. “At Kino Sports Complex we designed five soccer fields and the soccer stadium. At the same time, we had the opportunity to design the Oro Valley Aquatics Center and Sporting Chance,” a westside indoor

SPORTING CHANCE CENTER

VECTOR

WESTERN SAVINGS

SCHIRMER RESIDENCE

REID PARK ZOO

1969

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Robert Swaim, Architect, AIA Founded

Robert Swaim, President AIA Southern Arizona

Robert Swaim, AIA Arizona Architect Medal

Phil Swaim, President AIA Southern Arizona

Cornerstone Foundation Architect of the Year

Kevin Barber, AIA Arizona Associate of the Year

Ed Marley, President AIA Southern Arizona

TIMELINE Ed Marley, President AIA Arizona

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New Industries, New Work

Swaim has been able to get in on

much of the newer industry that has gained momentum over the last several years in the region, expanding its portfolio to hospitality and technology. The firm helped Pima County keep World View Enterprises in Tucson, designing their building near Tucson International Airport, and assisted in luring Caterpillar Surface Mining & Technology Division to a downtown site. They are currently working with Vector on the design of a new rocket manufacturing facility, and with JE Dunn on a new office development at 75 E. Broadway. Swaim was at the starting line for downtown’s resurgence when it part-

nered with FORSarchitecture+interiors to design one of the signature projects, the AC Hotel Downtown Tucson, the first hotel built in the city center in 50 years. The Marriott Hotel, built by developers Scott Stiteler and Rudy Dabdoub, brought a new element of modernism and urban response with its European style while maintaining a Southwestern flavor. The firm is now designing the new hotel that will go up this year on the Tucson Convention Center property. “Through all the growth, we’ve continued on page 74 >>>

WORLD VIEW ENTERPRISES

VAIL ACADEMY & HIGH SCHOOL

KINO SPORTS COMPLEX

TUCSON ELECTRIC POWER HEADQUARTERS

continued on page 72 >>> 2004 Phil Swaim, AIA Arizona Phil Dinsmore Award Ed Marley, AIA Arizona Architect Medal Cornerstone Foundation Architect of the Year

2006 AIA Arizona Firm of the Year Kevin Barber, AIA Southern Arizona Director (2006-2008)

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Cornerstone Foundation Architect of the Year

Cornerstone Foundation Architect of the Year

Phil Swaim, 2018 Jerry Wyatt Community Service Award

Michael Becherer, President Elect AIA Southern Arizona

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PHOTOS: COURTESY SWAIM ASSOCIATES

sports facility. Also on the list are UA’s William David Sitton Field at the Student Recreation Center across from Arizona Stadium. Swaim has done design work on locker rooms at McKale Center and was involved in improvements to the football stadium in collaboration with Populous, a Kansas City architecture firm. Its latest unveiling was Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, which was gutted, redesigned and rebuilt in time for the current UA softball season.


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continued from page 73 maintained our core values and commitment to personal service,” said Phil Swaim. “As Tucsonans, we’re interested in maintaining a strong local presence and supporting responsible urban growth that encourages investment.” Efficient with Energy

Swaim Project Awards Swaim Associates projects have received dozens of awards over the years, many for community collaboration. American Institute of Architects Robins Elementary School – Design Award 1995 University of Arizona Highland Commons – AZ Kemper Goodwin Award 2004 World View Enterprises, AIA Southern Arizona, Distinguished Building Honor Award 2018 Arizona Public Works Project of the Year Brandi Fenton Memorial Park 2006 Tucson Convention Center, Arena Renovation/ Tucson Roadrunners 2015 Metropolitan Pima Alliance Common Ground Award Brandi Fenton Memorial Park 2005 Reid Park Zoo Conservation Learning Center 2008 Vail Academy and High School 2010 Tucson Electric Power Headquarters 2011 Sporting Chance Center 2013

PHOTO: COURTESY SWAIM ASSOCIATES

AC Hotel Tucson Downtown 2015 World View Enterprises Headquarters 2016 Tucson Convention Center Arena Renovation 2016 Greyhound Terminal Relocation 2017 Governor’s Energy Award El Rio Adult Education Center 2004 Clements Fitness Center 2005 Landmark Building Award Orchard River Town Homes, 1999 74 BizTucson

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Part of that commitment includes a focus on sustainable projects. Five Swaim Associates architects are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited. And while not all clients specifically ask for a LEED building, Swaim’s architects generally design all projects with some level of energy efficiency. “It can depend on the priority of the client – some focus on design, some on sustainability,” Barber said. The City of Tucson, Reid Park Zoo and the AC Hotel are clients who are more centered on LEED. “The zoo was the first LEED Platinum (the highest level of certification) project in Tucson,” Swaim said, “and we did the first Pima County LEED job. UniSource (Tucson Electric Power headquarters) and the AC Hotel are both LEED Gold certified. Hotels see it as economic development.” Advancing with Technology

Architectural tools have advanced through the years, and Swaim professionals have seen the difference technology makes. At the beginning, recalled founder Bob Swaim, “we used pencils to create designs. Now, with the computer, you can do much more work and with fewer people.” Building Information Modeling – or BIM – is becoming more common today with both architects and general contractors. “Revit is a full 3D modeling software used for design and documentation of the drawings used to construct buildings,” said principal Mike Culbert. “General contractors are also utilizing BIM and the TEP headquarters was a good example.” Ryan Companies, the general contractor and developer on the TEP building, required their subcontractors to use BIM, which provided a second level of coordination identifying conflicts prior to construction. “This trend will only continue, and we will continue to help lead the charge into the world of BIM,” Culbert said. Into the Future

Swaim Associates has evolved through the years by diversifying its project list, keeping up with technology, hiring and training young architects, retaining longterm principals and constantly keeping an eye on the community. “Many firms don’t have the diversity of projects we have, and that’s part of our success, which has allowed us to be stable,” said Phil Swaim. But most important to him are the people he works with every day. “Our staff is our most valuable commodity. We have each other’s support. It’s nice to have total confidence in each other. We’re family. Everyone contributes. Everyone is valuable.”

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TREEHOUSE OFFICE

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

SWAIM RESIDENCE

EL RIO NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER

BOB SWAIM FORT LOWELL OFFICE

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Bob Swaim A Legacy of Collaboration

PHOTOS: COURTESY SWAIM ASSOCIATES

By Christy Krueger A company that’s been around for 50 years would be expected to have reams of history in the community where it works. For Swaim Associates, that history has been colorful, rewarding and filled with fond memories – especially as seen through the eyes of founder Bob Swaim. After graduating from the University of Nebraska College of Architecture and serving in the Korean War, Swaim gained early experience with architecture firms in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before settling in Tucson in 1958. He was a founding partner in a firm that eventually merged with a national firm after 10 years, and a year later, in 1969, he formed Robert Swaim Architect. “My first job was a sliding door in a master bedroom,” he recalled. Swaim’s son, Phil, now a principal at Swaim Associates, remembers working at his dad’s office as a youngster. “Growing up I knew I wanted to be an architect,” he said. After studying architecture at the University of Oregon followed by a few years working in Denver, Phil returned home and joined his father’s business in 1985 where Bob had recently hired Ed Marley, a University of Arizona graduate. Bob and Ed first met while Ed was in high school. “Bob’s passion for architecture made a lasting impression on me and I made it a personal goal to work with Bob one day,” Marley said. Phil remembers how his father considered the younger members of the firm to be fully qualified for the work. “Dad treated us as equals and directly involved us in projects. In the 1990s, when he started thinking about transitioning to retirement, Ed, Mark Bollard and I moved to ownership roles.” Bollard had joined the firm in 1986. Although Bob has occasionally been involved in projects since his retirement in 1995, he said, “The best thing to do if your son is following is to get out of the way – and they have flown.” www.BizTucson.com

One of the company’s philosophies, Bob said, is to “buy into longevity. It’s not how large you can get or how much you make. We provide a service and people come to us with a problem to solve. Architects are problem solvers. If you can do that, success, profit and growth will come. We also believe in partnering. The architect, contractor, owner and users of the building become a team. If they’re not all involved, the project won’t work as well.” Another leading attitude in the firm is to show equal consideration to all people. “I’d tell my employees that whoever came into the office, treat them as the most important people here – whether it’s a delivery person or a client,” Bob said.

I’d tell my employees that whoever came into the office, treat them as the most important people here – whether it’s a delivery person or a client.

– Bob Swaim Founder, Swaim Associates

Marley remembers that philosophy being instilled in him since his first days working with Bob. “He’d say everyone on a construction site is important and treat all of them with the same level of respect.” In his earliest days, most of Bob’s work was residential. But that changed when he became involved with the El

Rio Neighborhood Center in the 1970s. Residents in the area on West Speedway, west of Interstate 10, wanted their own community gathering space. “They had picnics on the golf course. People were marching and demanding to have a place,” Bob said. “They formed the El Rio Coalition. Raúl Grijalva (now a U.S. congressman), as a college kid, was part of it.” The City of Tucson hired Robert Swaim Architect for the project and Swaim joined the ongoing neighborhood coalition meetings to discuss the project. Sal Baldenegro, a well-known and vocal community activist, encouraged the neighborhood coalition to engage with Bob and listen to what he had to say, opening the door for the community engagement that was critical for the project’s success. As a result, Bob was able to design a multipurpose neighborhood center that profoundly improved the lives of its users. “It provided services to alleviate joblessness and poverty, for food stamps, child care – all these departments,” Bob said. “The building belongs to the people. We provided blank walls so they could paint murals.” To this day, Bob believes that meeting Baldenegro was integral to the success of the project and that it set the stage for the rest of his career because it taught him the importance of involving end users and listening to their needs. “Sal’s friendship was an important beginning for me,” he said. While today’s principals realize that diversification is a significant factor in their longevity, they still go back to crediting their “founding father,” as they endearingly call Bob, and the lessons he taught. Marley said, “Even though Bob retired in 1995, he built a legacy and what he left goes on and on. Every day, I ask ‘How would Bob handle this?’ ” “And he would do what’s ethical,” Phil said. “It has built our reputation.”

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COPPER RIDGE ELEMENTARY

ANDRADA POLYTECHNIC HIGH SCHOOL

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA HIGHLAND COMMONS

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Beyond the Drawings

From Vision to Design to Build

MICA MOUNTAIN HIGH SCHOOL

Bob Swaim, an architect for more than a half century, has always held the belief that he was a problem-solver for clients. It’s a belief that has been at the center of the design process at Swaim Associates since the firm was founded in 1969. The firm’s main focus in all its projects is communication and relationship building – not just with clients but with clients’ customers and end users. To build strong relationships, the firm encourages a collaborative design process that digs deeper into a client’s needs than some other firms. The architects at Swaim believe it creates a better end product as well as a positive relationship with the client that benefits both parties in the future. “We like to start out by helping our clients determine their vision for the facility they want to build,” said partner Phil Swaim, son of the founder. “It’s important for everyone to understand this vision – and it inspires people to open their minds to new options.” Swaim Associates architects challenge their clients to do things differently by thinking how the facility can help the business to function better. According to Laura Vertes, a new partner in the firm, they want their clients to dream about what could be in order to create a vision that is not hampered by existing limitations. “It’s most important for us to understand why the client wants a certain element in a building so that we can collectively determine what aspects are most important and provide options to meet their needs,” she said. The client usually brings together a committee of people who represent those who will be working in and using the building. The size of the committee can be anywhere from 10 to 100 people, and often includes some who won’t work in the building every day – for example, parents on a school project. Swaim’s function at this point is to help the committee create a vision for the project that benefits the most people and builds consensus among the committee. “This provides us with more buy-in from all parties involved,” said partner Ed Marley. “It helps everyone to see the bigger picture and creates the best solutions for the project. Sometimes people don’t get exactly what they want, but they understand why that happens because they were part of the process.” During the visioning process, the client committee often focuses on other aspects of the facility aside from how the building will function. “When we worked with TEP on designing their building downtown, they discussed the positive culture they wanted to create within the building,” said Marley. “They were going to move several people from their Irvington location to the new downtown headquarters, and many of those employees were not that excited about moving downtown. After being involved in the visioning and programming continued on page 84 >>>

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By April Bourie


INNOVATON ACADEMY AMPHITHEATER PUBLIC SCHOOLS

continued from page 83 process and having input on the culture that would be cultivated there, the employees were excited about moving.” Creating consensus during the visioning process is one thing that Swaim’s clients appreciate when working with the firm. “Our clients say they forget we’re architects because they feel like we’re part of their team,” said Swaim. Through their visioning work with college health centers, Swaim Associates has seen firsthand the value of the visioning process, particularly for clients looking to make a fundamental shift in their business model. “This is extremely important with our healthcare clients as they focus more on providing proactive centers for wellness, health education and more preventative services rather than centers that just fix people who are sick,” said Marley. This shift in focus means a whole new way of thinking about how business is provided and how the buildings that house those services can assist in making that delivery of service easier. After the visioning process, the Swaim team begins to look at the programming of the specific functions that will be housed in the building. “We begin to think about the character and function of the space, as well as interview users to determine how much space is required,” said Vertes. “This part of the process is about digging into the detail of a client’s needs so we can quantify how much space the project needs.” During the programming phase, the firm often observes how their clients operate in their current facilities, interviews users, and tours existing facilities. “This helps us to compare what they currently have to what they want for the new space – the vision. It gives us direction on what they’re trying to get away from and what we’re trying to create,” said Vertes. “People are very good at adapting to the space they have, but this process takes a deeper look at whether that space fits their actual needs.” This was a critical step in the programming of the University of Oregon’s health and wellness center. Marley went to the university’s former facility to see how they operated. The triage clinic was very busy but another clinic had no waiting. After talking with the university’s committee about why one had longer wait times than the other, Marley was able to create three different models for their existing space that would alleviate wait times in triage. When they implemented the one the committee liked best, the problem was solved, without having to wait for a new facility. Once the program is in hand, Swaim begins space planning, usually going through several rounds to best achieve the vision that was created at the beginning of the process. The firm often invites participation from the clients in this process. “We enjoy holding design and planning workshops where we invite the clients to draw or create the space themselves with scaled puzzle pieces that can be moved continued on page 86 >>>

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UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA HIGHLAND COMMONS


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BizCONSTRUCTION continued from page 84 around to give an idea of layout. This really helps people who are visual and who need to see the space to understand the possibilities and limitations,” said Vertes. It also makes it easier for clients to make the harder decisions such as who’s on the first floor, and it reinforces that bigger picture that was established during the visioning. “It’s much easier to do it the cookie-cutter way,” said Swaim. “But that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective. Our process creates key concepts in the building – and that engagement and respecting the clients’ ideas and opinions is a really important part of our process.” After the design is complete and documented, many architecture firms hand off the designs to the contractors. Swaim Associates prefers to take on projects where they can be involved in the construction phase. “We have a real focus on making sure we’re a partner with the contractor,” said Swaim. “The whole process is a team effort – client, architects, consultants, contractors and

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subcontractors. We’re all in this together to create the building that best meets our clients’ needs.” Vertes said the firm has always had good relationships with contractors, working with them during construction to resolve issues and minimize costs within schedule constraints. “Contractors have a wealth of knowledge and their partnership is key to resolving issues, particularly if cost overruns occur,” said Vertes. During the design of Copper Ridge Elementary in the Vail School District, it was important to the planning committee that lots of color and texture be included on the outside of the buildings. However, the costs to make that happen as initially designed were much higher than expected, so Vertes asked the contractor what other options could be utilized to provide a similar look and feel. By asking why the costs were high, the team could implement a simple shift in the detail to reduce the cost, allowing a key design element to remain. “We provide continuity for the cli-

ent,” said Swaim. “It can be more challenging to design that way, and often takes us out of the office for longer periods of time, but we feel it’s more effective to spend the time it takes to get it done right.” In its chosen role as a problem solver, the firm acts as a moderator and consensus builder during design. Its architects also have to be able to communicate effectively with contractors and subcontractors once the construction phase starts. Positive client relationships often lead to future projects or referrals – and positive relationships with construction companies and contractors make it easier to find solutions when issues arise. “It also has to be fun,” Swaim said. “We have to communicate that we enjoy what we do – and we want clients to enjoy it as well and get excited about being engaged in the process. We want them to understand that they’ll be heard and that they’ll be excited about the outcome when they walk into their new building.”

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75 E BROADWAY

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Bringing It Downtown

Making the Vision a Reality Downtown Tucson has become a hub of activity for new and redesigned buildings in the past few years – with Swaim Associates at the forefront, designing buildings and influencing other companies’ decisions to relocate to downtown. “Several years ago, we could see things were happening downtown and we wanted to get involved,” said Phil Swaim, a partner in the firm. In 2009, Swaim Associates was chosen as a local firm to partner with Davis, an architecture firm out of Phoenix, to design the new Tucson Electric Power downtown headquarters. The TEP building was the first major high-rise built in downtown in 20 years, and it set a new standard for downtown development. “TEP’s commitment to downtown and the building design really set the bar for future projects in the area,” Swaim said “The TEP headquarters going up also gave others confidence to build in the area,” said Michael Becherer, another partner at the firm. “It was a catalyst that made other companies consider downtown Tucson.” The AC Hotel Downtown Tucson, a Marriott hotel, was one such project. Swaim Associates was selected as the architecture firm because they were one of the few local firms that had high-rise design experience downtown. Done in association with FORSarchitecture+interiors, “the hotel design breathed new life into the downtown hospitality market, raising the standards

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for future developments even higher,” said Mike Culbert, senior partner at Swaim Architects. “I met a speaker at a conference I attended locally who stayed at the AC Marriott, and he said it had a European feel,” said Becherer. “He was very impressed.” Swaim Associates was deeply involved in one of the region’s biggest economic victories when it helped attract Caterpillar’s Surface Mining & Technology Division to eventually settle in Tucson. “We were involved in talks with Caterpillar about Tucson as a community – discussing schools, transportation, healthcare and other aspects of the city their employees would be interested in,” said Swaim. Swaim Associates had been asked by Pima County to do test fits at an existing building for several potential occupants who were considering locating in downtown Tucson. One of those companies was Caterpillar. Swaim also provided design concepts for the new building to Pima County and Rio Nuevo to help convince Caterpillar to move to Tucson. Caterpillar liked what it saw and made the decision to bring the mining division to Tucson. Swaim ultimately designed the temporary downtown offices Caterpillar would occupy while waiting for its new building to be completed on the west side of Interstate 10. While Swaim Associates did not design the new Caterpillar continued on page 90 >>> Spring 2019

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TUCSON ARENA

AC HOTEL TUCSON DOWNTOWN

RONSTADT CENTER

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continued from page 89 facility, they have stayed involved, acting as the project manager for Rio Nuevo. “One of our strengths is that through past projects we’ve become partners with government entities, neighborhood residents, builders, contractors and even nonprofits. This gives us the flexibility to take on different roles, like the project manager role with Caterpillar,” said Swaim. “The fact that Caterpillar decided on Tucson also led other companies to consider and choose Tucson,” Swaim said. “Some of their suppliers have decided on Tucson, and even unrelated companies are interested because of Caterpillar’s investment.” As downtown began to boom, the city and Rio Nuevo put a priority on attracting entertainment – and specifically professional sports – to the aging Tucson Convention Center. Swaim has been involved in designing the renovations at the Tucson Arena. The firm led the project to install new seats, sound and lighting in the arena. “Performers had avoided Tucson because the facility had not been updated,” Swaim said. “Our renovations helped attract the interest of the Roadrunners hockey team, and we even sat in on recruitment meetings with the team’s management to show them what else we could achieve in the space.” Once the Roadrunners committed to Tucson, the firm had only five months to design, permit and implement the updates the team wanted. “Another of our strengths is the ability to get things done quickly – and that goes back to our great relationships with public entities, contractors and others,” Swaim said. The Roadrunners are now in their third season at the arena while a new professional team – the Indoor Football League’s Tucson Sugar Skulls – is in its first season as the second professional sports tenant at the arena. The firm’s emphasis on developing strong working relationships helps make future projects easier to design and successfully implement. The firm is working on a six-story, 170-room DoubleTree

by Hilton hotel on Cushing Street that will connect to the glass entry area on the southeast side of the TCC. The firm has already begun talks with nearby barrio residents to create a project they will be happy with. “There can be tension between barrio residents and the city because of past building projects,” said partner Ed Marley. “We want to make sure that nearby residents are happy with the plans for the hotel to help rebuild their confidence and trust.” The design team has designed the building with a lower profile on the Cushing Street side and is considering a variety of parking options with resident input. “There will also be a restaurant with patios on Cushing Street – and this will bring some life to the street and make it more walkable,” Swaim said. “We are all after the right type of growth. Being that our firm has existed for 50 years, we’ve had time to prove we do follow through on our promises,” Becherer said. Another downtown project for the firm is 75 E. Broadway, a mixed-use building with offices and retail that will begin design in the next month. “It’s the first Spec Class A office building that has been developed since 1 S. Church in the 1980s,” Swaim said. “We wanted to establish a new pattern of design downtown, and people will see that soon when our designs are mounted on the fence in the next couple of months.” All the new development in downtown Tucson has a cumulative effect. It leads to more employees working downtown, which means more people eating in downtown restaurants, and some even wanting to live downtown. It leads to more interest in increasing entertainment and retail options in the area, which the firm sees as positive progress for growth in the area. “Seeing the vision of downtown starting to come to fruition after so many years of involvement is rewarding,” said Swaim. “We are Tucsonans and to see Tucson living up to its potential is exciting.”

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BRANDI FENTON MEMORIAL PARK

CANYON DEL ORO BAPTIST CHURCH

CANYON DEL ORO BAPTIST CHURCH

VAIL CHRISTIAN CHURCH

Building Community Responding to Needs and Wants

Swaim Associates’ founder and partners discovered early on the importance of forming community relationships. And now, 50 years later, they still credit their overall success and the rewarding nature of their work to the firm’s longtime focus on community involvement. Firm partner Phil Swaim considers Brandi Fenton Memorial Park as one of his favorite community projects. The opportunity came about when residents in the area around River Road and Alvernon Way were not happy when Pima County announced it was going to widen and straighten the road. Swaim got involved when local builder John Fenton and his wife wanted to create a park dedicated to their daughter Brandi’s memory near the alignment. Pima County Administrator Chuck 90 BizTucson

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Huckelberry introduced the Fentons to Swaim Associates and together they developed ideas and designs for a park that would appeal to diverse groups and that the county could agree upon. Through design workshops with various groups, Swaim Associates led a consensus-building process that resulted in a park design along the new alignment that had community and county support. “It helped that the Fentons brought in funding that allowed the momentum to start,” said Tim Smith, a Swaim partner. “Historic preservation was an important goal. Some buildings (on the property) were significant and in relatively good condition, others weren’t able to be saved. Being able to respect and maintain the significant historic as-

sets helped give focus to the park.” The park amenities include playgrounds, soccer fields, a memorial garden, an equestrian area, dog park, basketball courts and a splash pad. One of the historic houses became the clubhouse for FC Tucson Youth Soccer Club. The list of amenities has continued to grow over the years, as the community has continued to embrace and support the park. “It was great to build consensus,” Swaim said. And his team was happy to help. The Tucson/Pima Historical Commission also took note of the results and honored Swaim Associates with its historic preservation award. The Aspen Fire on Mount Lemmon in 2003 got Swaim and partner continued on page 94 >>> www.BizTucson.com

PHOTOS: COURTESY SWAIM ASSOCIATES

By April Bourie


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MOUNT LEMMON COMMUNITY CENTER SUMMERHAVEN MASTER PLAN

VAIL CHRISTIAN CHURCH

continued from page 92 Ed Marley involved in the recovery efforts leading to building the new Mount Lemmon Community Center in Summerhaven. “My family had a cabin on Mount Lemmon and we lost it in the fire,” Swaim said. “The neighbors said we need to bring this community together. I was on the Mount Lemmon Master Planning Committee.” Marley offered support as chair of the Mount Lemmon Restoration Committee. “Residents were going through emotional times,” Marley said. “I worked with Pima County Development Services to develop new zoning and building codes so they could rebuild quickly in a way that would reduce future risk. We also did aspen transplants and pinecone harvesting for ponderosa pine propagation.” The partners’ efforts were coordinated through the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, of which Swaim Associates is a member. “Out of those efforts, the county got bond funding for a community center,” Swaim said. “The residents really wanted one.” Swaim Associates was awarded the design work for the project, enabling them to bring part of the master plan they had worked on to fruition. Michael Becherer, one of the company’s newer partners, said he appreciates how volunteerism is encouraged and supported among the firm’s staff. One of his interests is helping with the homeless in Tucson. As an AIA board member, he became involved with homelessness in Tucson and is now the Chair of the Old Pueblo Community Services board of directors, working to end chronic homelessness in Tucson. Swaim’s staff also is offering ideas and know-how in support of Tucson’s economic development and downtown growth. “We’re helping Rio Nuevo with the Sunshine Mile, the properties affected by the Broadway widening near downtown,” Becherer said. “Like downtown, Rio Nuevo’s intent is to revitalize the area.” Swaim Associates has a long list of awards related to collaboration in the community, including several from Metropolitan Pima Alliance. MPA was founded 22 years ago to bring together various entities in Pima County to work together – including developers, contractors, realtors and bankers – to foster responsible development. “MPA came up with Common Ground Awards to celebrate projects that embrace a collaborative development process,” Marley said. “CGA selects projects that were able to bring diverse groups together to overcome significant challenges.” Among dozens of other honors, Swaim Associates has won Architect of the Year four times from Cornerstone Building Foundation. Originally a nonprofit partnership between the AIA and Arizona Builders Association, CBF celebrates excellence in the local design and construction industries. Becherer noted: “Being recognized by Cornerstone is particularly rewarding because winners are selected by our peers for our service, rather than for particular projects.” “Our goal is to build communities, so we bring people together. It’s a very rewarding part of what we do,” Swaim said.

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VECTOR

TUCSON CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA HEALTH SCIENCES INNOVATION BUILDING

From left â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Kevin A. Barber, Michael E. Becherer, Timothy J. Smith, Laura E. Vertes 75 E BROADWAY

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The Future is in Place Carrying the Legacy

PHOTOS: COURTESY SWAIM ASSOCIATES

By April Bourie With 50 years in the rear-view mirror, the next generation at Swaim Associates is already in place. Architects Timothy Smith, Laura Vertes and Michael Becherer were recently promoted to partner, expanding Swaim’s leadership team with the goal of providing continuity for the future. “It’s a long-term transition plan that allows for a large knowledge base to be soaked up by the new partners from the senior partners, providing the firm with a valuable continuum of knowledge,” said Swaim partner Kevin Barber. “The senior partners organically found their roles within the firm – and we want to give the new partners that opportunity as well.” The three new partners have diverse interests and even found their love for architecture in different ways. Smith’s father challenged him to design a house in high school, and while the results were too creative to be built, they led him to take drafting classes, where he excelled. He began pursuing a degree in architecture at the University of Arizona a few years later. “At the time, I didn’t really know what I was signing up for, but it fit with what I enjoy, and it has worked out really well,” he said. Smith joined Swaim Associates in 2002 and has contributed to the firm’s athletic, technology and worship portfolios. Vertes said she enjoyed taking challenging classes in math and science as she was moving through school, but she also enjoyed creative outlets. At the time, her future sister-in-law was studying architecture a couple of years ahead of her in college and Vertes noticed that her classes were both creative and challenging. She took a leap and majored in www.BizTucson.com

architecture where the combination of problem-solving and creativity inspired her. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2003 and joined the firm in 2007. Vertes has been involved in several of the firm’s large-scale projects. Becherer was inspired to pursue architecture at an early age. He attended an architectural workshop while in high school, and the teachers there encouraged him to take art classes because it aligned better with the curriculum at the University of Kentucky College of Architecture. He graduated from Kentucky with a degree in architecture and moved to Tucson in 2004 where he worked for a few different architecture firms before he started at Swaim Associates in 2016. His current focus is in concept development where he takes a clients’ early ideas and illuminates a project’s potential. According to Barber, one of the reasons that each new partner was promoted to the position is they possess different skills and strengths but share common values about architecture and architectural practice. “I frequently came up with designs for weird things growing up, and I still like to take on unique challenges and design problems,” Smith said. “Visioning and programming is where my spark of inspiration comes from and they are close to my heart,” Vertes said. “For me, architecture is as much about the ability to understand our clients as it is about design.” Becherer has focused on public work for most of his career. “I would like the firm to expand within this market as the local jurisdictions begin to reinvest into their facilities and public safety infrastructure,” he said.

In addition to that combination of skills and strengths, the new partners also were promoted because they love architecture, are great problem solvers and embrace the culture of the firm. “Their strengths and dedication are similar to the senior partners, so it was a natural choice,” Barber said. “We’re going to take everything that’s here now and carry it forward,” said Vertes. “Obviously the firm will evolve – but our core values that Bob Swaim established in the very beginning will remain the same.” One focus is to continue the valuable relationships with clients, government entities, contractors and the firm’s employees. “We have a very unique culture here, and I think that’s why people stay,” said Barber. Becherer added: “The culture is what drew me to come to Swaim. I had other opportunities for leadership positions in Tucson but chose Swaim primarily because of the firm culture and the status in the community.” “Tending to the firm’s culture is important, and we need to continue to make sure that it remains strong,” said Vertes. “The entire staff is a really solid team.” The new partners also want to be inspiring to their employees, as the senior partners have been for them. “The senior partners have always encouraged us to stretch ourselves and grow professionally,” Vertes said. “We want to do the same for the younger generation behind us.” “We’re very excited about the future of Swaim Associates and look forward to building on the success of the past 50 years as we continue through the next 50,” Barber said.

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Profile for BizTucson Magazine

Swaim Associates Architects 2019  

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Swaim Associates Architects 2019  

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