For(u)m Members Feature at Historic Preservation Conference

Attendees of March's For(u)m Camelback Light Rail Corridor enjoy the interior of the adaptive reuse project The Newton Photo by Ryan Winkle

Attendees of March's For(u)m Camelback Light Rail Corridor enjoy the interior of the adaptive reuse project The Newton Photo by Ryan Winkle

In March of last year, Local First Arizona proudly launched the For(u)m program, dedicated to public education, city policy advocacy, and building connections between those in the building industry to share best practices in producing the best preservation and adaptive reuse projects across the Valley. Though historical reverence, we might build a more place-conscious state, which acknowledges and builds upon its history to retain human scale, reuse building materials and maintain and grow our unique southwestern culture.

For years, Local First and its members have built off our unique heritage—the Newton, a multitude of Upward Projects restaurants, the architectural portfolio of Jarson & Jarson Real Estate, the Hotel Congress and Rialto Theatre in Tucson, and our main streets all over the state. Even our offices, inside Modified Arts, occupy a 1940s commercial building, with plans to expand by the end of the year into the century old Wurth House.

By combining history and local business, we might center what makes our state great and unique—building on our informal work in advocating for adaptive reuse into a true movement.

Our state’s recently-installed Historic Preservation Officer, Kathryn Leonard, sees this link, noting the reinvigoration seen across the Valley and state as commercial adaptive reuse takes hold, and draws the attention of the masses through projects like the DeSoto Central Market.

In celebration of this alignment, Local First Arizona is proud to sponsor this year’s Historic Preservation Conference, taking place June 14-16 in Oro Valley in southern Arizona.

Joel Contreras' twenty-three 02 renovation in the Coronado Historic District. Photo courtesy of Joel Contreras

Joel Contreras' twenty-three 02 renovation in the Coronado Historic District. Photo courtesy of Joel Contreras

Under the theme “It’s In Our Nature,” the conference focuses on the intersection of nature and preservation—through our cultural landscapes, Indigenous artifacts, and the conservation of ecological resources that goes along with preservation of the built environment.

Among the speakers scheduled to appear are For(u)m members Lorenzo Perez of Venue Projects, and Joel Contreras of his own eponymous design and redevelopment firm. Perez has gained acclaim locally and nationally through such adaptive reuse projects as The Newton and Windsor & Churn, and the recent Alhambra Hotel renovation into student housing in partnership with Benedictine University in downtown Mesa. Contreras, alternately, focuses in the residential space through design commissions across the Valley, and his own modern/historic renovation mashups in the Coronado Historic District.

Through this robust mix of speakers, the conference is designed to appeal to preservationists of all stripes, with an eye towards the future of what it means to preserve a state’s culture. We can’t wait to attend, and we look forward to seeing what new opportunities arise for locally-centered reuse.

The Arizona Historic Preservation Conference is scheduled for June 14-16 in Oro Valley, in Pima County, Arizona. Full details and conference registration here.