Mountain Bell: Midrise and Inevitable Fall

Mountain Bell/US WEST/Qwest "3rd & Earll" former headquarters implosion video...
3033 North 3rd Street in 2008
In 1972 this building, designed by Al Beadle in the International Style of Architecture, was completed and hailed as the arrival of modern glass building architecture in Phoenix. It was built with black glass, "like black telephones." On a personal level I disliked not only the style of the building but also the Dilbert cubicle land inside that it represented for me as an employee of what was then Mountain Bell. Later as the extensive environmental problems of the building were uncovered, I disliked going and conducting extended weeks of training sessions in the dingy building. To me it was a pit of asbestos, poorly maintained and if a building ever anecdotally qualified as a "sick building", this was it. There are purists who admire the "glass box" architecture and Beadle's buildings and work to preserve them. Attempts were made way beyond the time frame to fix irreparable damage, to make it a "historic building." A good source of information on the design and history of the building as well as it's destruction is on Alison King's Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network site at the Beadle Archive: Farewell, MoBell archive.

When the building was imploded by Advanced Explosives Demolition, Inc. on September 27, 2009, I had no intention of being anywhere near it, due to the high probability of being exposed to all kinds of airborne hazards. It had become a broken glass, plywood patched, asbestos-laden eyesore, accident-waiting-to-happen. In the video you will see that it did not collapse directly onto itself, as usually happens in large building implosions, rather it fell sideways into the neighborhood, creating a huge extended dust blow. This KTAR video first shows the implosion from the southwest angle, notes the large and extended dust cloud ("it looks like a dust storm!") and then the implosion from the northeast angle. Finally it shows the scene again from the southwest angle in slow motion. In the background of the northeast angle view, the 26 story canopied high rise is the current Qwest building at 20 East Thomas Road.

Plans to turn the property into a multi-million dollar condominium retirement complex, conceived in the frenzy of the height of the real estate bubble, have blown to the wind.

Demolition of the Mountain Bell Building from KTAR on Vimeo.