The Pin: Spiraling 430-foot observation tower planned for Phoenix


February 10, 2013

BIG have designed the structure to stand as a metaphorical pin (Image: BIG)

BIG have designed the structure to stand as a metaphorical pin (Image: BIG)

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The city of Phoenix wants to mark its place on the map, quite literally, with a new observation tower dubbed “The Pin.” Designed by Danish architecture studio BIG, the new addition to Arizona’s capital city will manifest itself as 430 ft (131 m) high tower topped by a giant sphere sliced into a spiraling open air observation deck that enables visitors to enjoy 360-degree views of Phoenix and the “Valley of the Sun.”

Located in downtown Phoenix, BIG’s design is inspired by the Guggenheim museum, creating the inverse of its iconic spiral walkways.

The tower will be constructed from reinforced concrete and use three glass elevators to transport visitors to the top of the observation deck, from where they can gradually descend the spiral ramps that provide the widest viewing platform at the middle section of the "pin head." The project will provide an area of 70,000 sq. ft. (6503 sq. mt.) which will incorporate exhibition spaces, shops and restaurants, both in the pin head and around the new public square planned at its base.

The Pin will be Phoenix’s second tallest tower, below the 483 ft (147.2 m) Chase Tower, and hopes to serve as a working model of sustainable energy practice through the use of LED lights for night-time illumination and solar technologies.

The design has already been suggested to resemble a number of items from a toilet brush to, more politely, a large honey dipper. Whatever the feedback, it seems certain to serve its purpose as a memorable city landmark in the future. There are currently no published construction dates, however, BIG highlight the project as “in progress” on its information page, and the estimated cost is US$60 million.

Source: BIG via Architizer

About the Author
Donna Taylor After years of working in software delivery, Donna seized the opportunity to head back to university and this time study a lifelong passion: Architecture. Originally from the U.K. and after living in many countries, Donna and her family are now settled in Western Australia. When not writing Donna can be found at the University of Western Australia's Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts Department. All articles by Donna Taylor

To be strictly correct, this is not a spiral but a helix.I have visions of a lot of base jumping going on, and the unprotected railing looks decidedly unsafe. A possible feature they could have would be glass flooring on the walkway (like the viewing platform at the Grand Canyon) only for the brave! well, maybe just a short section at the lower portion. Perhaps they could fit a slide as well from the top to the bottom of the pathway. Rainbow pulsing LEDs would look fantastic by night. And to finish things off: How about making the tower out of glass and steel instead of concrete?.

David Clarke

They should shoot for at least 2,000 feet up and put high end condos up there. Make the ball way larger. City in the sky, above the smog. Wake up in the clouds. 430 feet is not high enough.


It's just MUST be government funded, a useless extravagance, but a tall place for some politician to put his name on.


Phoenix has added itself to the list of cities with an edifice complex. So for $60 mill you get a view of urban sprawl.

Bruce H. Anderson

Just what a broke city needs to spend money on. Christ, between the expansion of a light rail that heavily subsidizes every user and this; it's like they are having a competition on how to waste my money in the most trivial way.

Chris K

I bet the architect is a fan of Schlock Mercenary. The design reminds me of a scale model of the shirt pin building on the terraformed Moon in that webcomic.

Gregg Eshelman

U have 2 promote Urself don't be too critical, i admit the Phoenix rising 400 ft. isn't going to slay that many competitive dragons. it's not a politicians name that will be on parade but a business. we should be thankful for that. slayerwulfe cave


SIM- City (copter with the cheat codes?) . Always wondered what the materials would need to be

430 feet- run a chimney off a greenhouse at the bottom- might come close to paying the bills with a little solar steam. even guy wired to keep it from swaying with a larger 'Horton hears a who' top on it- wuld be pretty unique-better if it were low sloped enough for slow speed luge. could always run it to the ground around the elevator. concentric spoked like SBP designs maybe. Use a few empty elevator shafts to power it.


About that open-air deck...Phoenix is pretty hot six months of the year. Locals who are used to it probably won't mind the few times they visit, but tourists may mind-- what tourists there are in the summer. The city has a perfect opportunity to explore and demonstrate how other regions could handle climate change phenomena, like drought. I'd go for expertise rather than exhibitionism.

Ardis Lille

Uh, huh. And what about the jumpers? The Golden Gate Bridge, out here in my neck of the woods, gets, on average, a jumper (suicide) every two weeks. This Phoenix helix thing seems like it would be even more attractive, what with its open-air design and nothing but a normal-height glassed railing to separate a jumper from liquifying himself on the concrete 483 feet below. Berta certainly ain't cleanin' THAT up.

Gregg DesElms
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