Taz Loomans

Old Gun Supply Store in Arizona Transformed Into Community-Friendly Creative Center of Scottsdale

by , 04/04/14

michelle biely, scottsdale, arizona, contour design studio, christina noble, gun supply store, creative co-working space, 2030 challenge, green building code, first commercial green building code building scottsdale, natural daylighting, courtyard design, community gathering space, desert modern aesthetic, third thursday art walks

Michelle Biely bought a property in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona that operated as a gun supply store for over 50 years. She wanted to turn it into a more friendly, community-oriented place and hired Contour Design Studio, led by principal Christina Noble, to turn it into a creative co-working complex complete with a coffee shop and courtyard gathering space. The Creative Center of Scottsdale is an adaptive reuse project of three existing buildings: a 4,000 square foot gun supply store transformed into a creative co-working space, a 2,000 square foot auto shop that is now an empty shell waiting for a tenant, and a 1,800 square foot knit shop that has been renovated as a coffee house. This is the first commercial building in the city to have been approved with the International Green Building Code.


michelle biely, scottsdale, arizona, contour design studio, christina noble, gun supply store, creative co-working space, 2030 challenge, green building code, first commercial green building code building scottsdale, natural daylighting, courtyard design, community gathering space, desert modern aesthetic, third thursday art walks

Sustainability was a key component to the design of the Creative Center. Contour Design Studio took a whole systems approach to sustainability and applied it in as many ways as possible throughout the project, including energy efficiency, daylighting, sourcing local and sustainable materials, and sensible landscaping. With an aim to meet the 2030 Challenge with the Creative Center, Contour Design Studio achieved a 60 percent energy efficiency using measures such as high-efficiency HVAC systems, increased insulation, solar panels, and LED lighting. 

Daylighting was also key, not only as a sustainability measure and a functional component to the artists co-working space, but as a design tool to give the spaces more volume. The design team put tubular skylights throughout all three buildings and a huge sawtooth skylight in the center. Glass roll-up doors on either end of the center make for a great blurring between the indoors and outdoors, a unique opportunity in the mostly mild climate of the desert, as well as harvesting more daylight into the space. Corten steel clads the buildings, protecting the original masonry walls from the intense desert sun and creating a distinguishing aesthetic for the center facing the busy Scottsdale Road thoroughfare.

Contour Design Studio employed a rugged, desert aesthetic to the project in keeping with Scottsdale’s motto – “The West’s most Western Town” and made it contemporary with clean, modern lines. Also essential to the design was keeping a great deal of the existing materials and exposing them, such as the beautiful wood trusses in the Creative Center building and exposing and sandblasting the masonry block walls in all three buildings.

The three buildings surround a beautiful courtyard that the design team leveraged into a community gathering space. The courtyard is adorned with stringed lights to make it into a festive and inviting gathering space. On Third Thursday Art Walks, the courtyard will become a makeshift arts market where artists will set up their work and the community can enjoy live entertainment, browse, appreciate and purchase art. The center is projected to open in the Spring.

+ Contour Design Studio

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