Filed Under 1970s through 2000

Tempe Municipal Building

It is a common sight to see someone sit and marvel at the Tempe Municipal Building’s architecture. The upside-down pyramid is a modern and edgy mash-up of Egyptian and Mayan architecture. The eye-catching design sparks conversation, which is exactly what it was built for. While the building itself was constructed in 1970, it sits on the same lot on which the 1914 Tempe City Hall stood. The early 1970s was a time of reinvestment and redevelopment for downtown Tempe and Mill Avenue. Construction of a new city building ignited a movement to make Mill Avenue a popular pin on the map again. Mill Avenue opened new stores, restaurants, and entertainment centers during this redevelopment phase.

The building itself is considered a passive solar building because the design allows for it to shade itself. Michael Goodwin is responsible for the unique design. He is the son of Kemper Goodwin and the grandson of the successful Tempe businessman Garfield Goodwin. The Goodwins are responsible for a large amount of Tempe’s history. Michael Goodwin has designed several schools in the area, including Marcos de Niza High School and Corona del Sol High School. His father, Kemper, designed several buildings on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus including the Memorial Union building.

"Tempe's city hall was the benchmark project that motivated the revitalization era for all downtown Tempe. It has created a destination location in Tempe and has helped to draw thousands of tourists into downtown every year. Tempe Municipal Building is an architectural achievement as well as historical. It celebrated the use of steel construction as a primary construction method in the Salt River Valley." (Tempe Preservation, Mill Ave Tour)


Tempe Municipal Building Entrance, ca. 1988
Tempe Municipal Building Entrance, ca. 1988 In 2018 a plan to renovate the building and outdoor public space was approved by the City of Tempe. Source: Photo courtesy of Tempe History Museum
German Tour Group, ca. 1977
German Tour Group, ca. 1977 A guided tour is pictured in front of the new Tempe City Hall. The tour group was from a sister city in the Republic of West Germany in November of 1977. Source: Photo courtesy of Tempe History Museum
Mill Avenue, ca. 1971
Mill Avenue, ca. 1971 The progress of urban renewal efforts in downtown Tempe in the 1970s. The buildings had been newly remodeled. Tempe City Hall is located in the back. Source: Photo courtesy of Tempe History Museum.
Tempe Town Hall, ca. 1912
Tempe Town Hall, ca. 1912 The Tempe Town Hall is pictured in 1912 with city councilmen in front. The original structure had classic Roman architecture but was later replaced by the new modern upside-down pyramid in 1970. Source: Photo courtesy of Tempe History Museum
Tempe City Hall Expansion Wings
Tempe City Hall Expansion Wings A postcard of the original City Hall building that shows the additions made to the Tempe City Hall building before it was replaced by the pyramid. Source: Photo courtesy of Joe Nucci



Thomas Black, “Tempe Municipal Building,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 23, 2024,