Located on a once abandoned back alley irrigation canal, The Canal Restaurant is located within a new mixed use urban development on a revitalized site that is a thoroughfare of shopping, dining, interactive pedestrian activity and a popular venue for public and private cultural events. The canal is now the centerpiece for pedestrian traffic and conveniently situated in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale. This neighborhood in transition includes an operating blacksmith shop and is a thriving hotspot for upscale resorts, nightclubs and restaurants.

Canal Restaurant juxtaposes two conceptual ideas: the highly polished urban chic of high fashion and an old industrial warehouse; references to Scottsdale’s reincarnation as a budding Mecca for fashionistas and its recent more utilitarian past. Both concepts come from the context of the restaurant’s location and integration within the site.

Surrounded by upscale retail areas, creating a physical connection from the luxury shopping boutiques on one side to the waterway on the other, the restaurant is a physical and conceptual link to the building as a whole. Customers typically enter through a side entrance through the bustling bar, but one can also find the Canal through an interconnected spiral stair from the adjacent retail. Models parade through the restaurant periodically demonstrating their wares off the glass runway. Back bar becomes patio bar when weather permits (most of the year) as an industrial garage door allows customers a full view of the canal activity outside and brings in the energy of the patio for a truly indoor/outdoor lounge experience.


Playful contrasts energize the interior. The fashion world becomes the focal point day or night with a boldly displayed over-scaled glass projection screen radiating with images of models, fashions, color and energy adding edginess to the sumptuous patterns and textures on the seating beyond. While the primary design challenge was to attract the sophisticated youthful crowd in “old town” Scottsdale at night, the restaurant and lounge serve a business-oriented downtown lunch crowd.  The mix matched bohemian colors and patterns appear youthful and contemporary in the bright natural daylight of the bar and restaurant when the bold modern shapes are the focus while the screen images become background.

Referencing the materiality of the warehouse with rough steel and old brick, the exposed concrete and mechanical / plumbing systems play off of the highly finished back-lit glass runway and translucent netting of the drapery sheers dividing the restaurant. Continuing the story of contrasts between highly polished and exposed industrial; the concrete and steel bar is set off with adjacent polished woods and frosted glass. At night, the chic images of models reflects off the crowd within, while the changing colors of the backlit forms give the space a sexy theatrical energy, alluding to spaces that aren’t seen and providing an ideal backdrop to the fashionable nighttime crowd. 


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