Cowley Companies Corporate Offices

DATE: 2011
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona, USA
OLD USE: Produce warehouse
NEW USE: Office


Built in the 1930s, the structure was used as a warehouse for produce.[1] It was located among other warehouses and along a primary railroad line for the city.


The Cowley Companies is a Phoenix-based real estate investment firm and was founded in 1967.[2]

Office of Desert Architecture is an architectural firm providing a full range of services including building programming, building and tenant improvement design, adaptive reuse, planning, re-zoning, and site feasibility studies. ODA partners with public and private clients to develop creative solutions to living and building in the southwest. Believing that building should be a reflection of its location, its time and its function, they work closely with clients to create places that emphasize quality living and working spaces as environmentally-responsive solutions.[3]


Cowley Companies envisioned the old warehouse as its new corporate offices. They brought on Office of Desert Architecture to transform the 9,000 square foot building into a feasible and sustainable location.

Integrating a simple and modern design, the improvements respect the historic nature of the building while creating a unique work environment. The scope of the project included a complete renovation of the exterior and interior. Painted steel shade canopies and concrete patios along with new landscaping were the primary improvements to the exterior of the building and lot. Other site improvements included perforated steel fencing and parking canopies with solar panels, which provide approximately 60 percent of the building’s energy needs. Insulated steel-framed windows were installed to maintain the historic character of the building. The original “deco style” exterior building signage was repaired and utilized.

At the interior, office walls and produce coolers were removed to create an open work space. Drop ceiling tiles were taken down to expose the wood trusses, steel joists and concrete beams. The existing exterior walls, as well as the major interior dividing wall, all constructed of brick, were returned to their original condition by removing several layers of paint. Exposing the original red brick construction allowed the character of the historic building to be expressed on the interior. In areas of deterioration, brick was repaired or replaced as was necessary. The new offices were constructed using gypsum wall board, painted white, offering a contrasting element to the natural tones and textures of the wood and brick. The exterior doors and windows as well as the interior offices incorporate the same steel frame window system by Hope’s Windows. In the case of the interior, the window and door systems were designed with operable transoms and larger expanses of glass, melding historic and modern sensibilities.[4]

[1]ODA | Office of Desert Architecture
[2]Arizona Corporation Commission
[3]ODA | Office of Desert Architecture
[4]ODA | Office of Desert Architecture

Images courtesy of ODA | Office of Desert Architecture.