Within a decade, the city of Phoenix, Arizona will transform a 32-acre downtown urban park into a vibrant cultural hub. Spanning over one half mile of U.S. Interstate Highway 10, the recently-approved, competition-winning masterplan was envisioned by New York’s !melk and locally based WEDDLE GILMORE black rock studio. The phased masterplan has been divided into three programmatic spaces: the valley, canyon, and plateau. The “valley” will be the park’s neighborhood commons, comprised of a sward of green hills suitable for picnics and relaxation.
Architects: WEDDLE GILMORE black rock studio, !melk
Location: 1221 North Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004, United States
Lead Designer: !melk
Project Management: Weddle Gilmore
Landscape Architect: Floor Associates
Community Liaison: Kimber Lanning
Civil Engineer / Surveyor: David Evans & Associates
Structural: Buro Happold
Environmental Engineering: Sherwood Design Engineers
Economic Development & Public Policy: HR&A
Public Space Management & O&M Budgeting: ETM Associates
Construction Cost Estimator: Rider Levett Bucknall
Project Year: 2024
The “canyon” will act as an urban center, whose busy plaza will cater to food vendors and provide direct access to the neighboring Burton Barr Public Library. The park’s “plateau” will be used as a venue for large community events, including those planned by the adjacent Phoenix Center for the Arts. Each of these spaces will be defined by large, structural forms abstracted from Phoenix’s buttes. The size of these structures will serve to minimize the apparent size of the park, and help develop a microclimate. This idea of microclimate is carried a step further through the park’s landscaping scheme.
The numerous plants planted in the park will provide shade, frame pathways, add fragrance, and create natural partitions between spaces. The gardens will be watered using captured run-off and irrigated using energy-efficient techniques, a sustainable solution to maintaining so much foliage in an arid climate. Perhaps its most distinctive feature, large cloud-like screens will be suspended over parts of the park, including the Central Avenue bridge that passes over it.
These screens will mark the location of the park within the city, and provide additional shade from the desert sun. Initial construction will begin with renovations to the “canyon” section of the site, as well as the entrances to and from Central Avenue. Development will continue in phases, moving outward from these points in the park.