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OCT. 2012






a publication of the american institute of architects ARIZONA




The AIA Forum Arizona is a peer-reviewed publication created to invite AIA members and authors to share their expertise, practice experience, visions and theories with the profession and the community in general.

The Forum

challenges authors and readers to solve prescient

issues, provide insight into contemporary architectural practice, contemplate architectural theory, and thoughtfully consider architectural design, urbanism, sustainability and technology.

The Forum is open to contributions from AIA Members and community leaders. Its roots are based in the AIA Arizona Communications Committee and it is a tool intended to increase dialogue, communication and increased involvement on multiple levels.

The Forum

will foster

interaction and discussion that will cultivate relationships between members and the broader community while also encouraging critical analysis and proactive thinking.

There are three key contributors to the Forum: the editors, authors and peer-reviewers. As a team, we strive to make each issue comprehensive, interesting and provocative. Forum is constantly seeking greater input and involvement, so please contact the Forum Editor-in-Chief or the AIA Arizona Communications Committee to learn how you can best engage with AIA Forum. Contact Christina Noble, AIA Forum Arizona Editor-in-Chief, at if you would like to contribute






























REIMAGINING THE FUTURE A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR CHRISTINA NOBLE, aia, LEED AP The Boomers’ desire for the American Dream encouraged Easterners and Midwesterners to venture west, expanding Arizona’s cities into suburbs shaped by the automobile Arizona is a state of optimists. With US western expansion to Arizona beginning in the late 1800s, Arizona’s cities have been shaped by our desire to affordably provide single-family homes so that many can achieve the American Dream. Arizona has experienced transformational growth over the past half century. We have gone from 1.77 million people in 1970 to 6.4 million in 20101 and we’re expected to reach 13.3 million by 2055.2 In the past 30 years we have more than tripled our size and in the next 40 we may double our size again. Not surprisingly, Arizona’s growth tracks with Boomers’ coming of age and other life milestones. With 77 million Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 that generation turned twenty as the Arizona population started to climb exponentially.3 The Boomers’ desire for the American Dream, inspired by images of Leave It to Beaver and the Chevy ad campaign, “See the USA in your Chevrolet,” encouraged Easterners and Midwesterners to venture west, expanding Arizona’s cities into suburbs shaped by the automobile.



letter from the editor

“Arizona is a state of optimists.”

The Valley of the Sun especially capitalized on Boomers’ desires and sold itself as a haven of affordable resort-style living with over three hundred sunny days per year, a car in every garage, and a pool in every back yard. As the Boomers reach their next milestone – retirement - we will also encounter the next demographic


shift as their children, the Millennials, reach maturity. I can’t help but wonder: what impact will the next generation have on our cities’ future growth? With 76 million Millennials born between 1977 and 1994, they are not too dissimilar from their parents in terms of numbers. The largest class of Millennials graduated from college in 20094 and seeks an urban lifestyle and amenities: a physically and culturally central location, public transportation, bars and restaurants, local groceries and farmers markets.5

In just the ten years since my return to my hometown, Phoenix, the city has

begun to develop many of these amenities and “third places” necessary to feel like a vibrant, exciting community. Local nodes such as Postino and La Grande Orange in the Arcadia neighborhood initiated my husband and me to the local foodie and wine scene. Since then, the list of restaurants and bars in the Central Phoenix area has expanded so much that when friends visit from out of town we enjoy sharing the debilitatingly long list of restaurants we’d love to show off. We can spend days whittling down to the final selection as we debate the merits of each and balance this with the cuisine, the weather, and our mood. It’s a fun problem to have. Happily, Phoenix has continued to comfortably fit as my own life has changed. On the Millennial cusp, I will likely hit my life milestones just ahead of the majority and can serve as a possible harbinger of what’s to come. One of Phoenix’s long-time economic strategies has been to make single-family home ownership attainable for its residents and I have been one of the fortunate beneficiaries. Living in Central Phoenix I have been able to transition from an apartment dweller to a homeowner and now to a mom, all while staying in the same neighborhood. While “aging in place” is a term often intended for the elderly and universal design, I would argue that long-term connections to ones neighborhood and community contribute significantly to overall quality of life, regardless of one’s age. It is equally important for young residents to seamlessly transition from renters into homeowners and eventually parents while still feeling connected to their friends, neighbors, and favorite neighborhood hangouts. Even now with the demands of a two-year-old, my expectations and needs have shifted, yet my favorite places have surprisingly remained the same (although the times I visit them have changed dramatically). A focus on a casual lifestyle filled with outdoor recreation, patio dining, and downtown cultural festivals makes it possible for me to feel confident that I can still enjoy the same engaging community spaces that I did pre-baby as I do now with a curious toddler.



letter from the editor

At the same time I fear that there are still many expecting the boom times to return and look the same as they did before the crash. I’ve attended meetings with land brokers around the table who firmly believe that the market is returning to its former sprawl-hungry composition and 90 percent of our future development will continue to be on the periphery and only 10 percent will be infill. This is not what I want and this is not what my friends want. And, while I can’t speak for an entire generation or an entire city, I can say that my own small neighborhood in Central Phoenix is full of young families and it’s exciting to imagine our children growing up together as we build a close-knit community where I can run into friends, neighbors and even former high school classmates at the local coffee shop after a hike up Piestewa Peak or a bike ride to the neighborhood pocket park. It’s these experiences that feel uniquely “Phoenix” to me. I value and cherish these moments and I hope to advocate for more and similar spaces as Phoenix continues to grow and transform. Interestingly, what has been labeled as one of Phoenix’s detriments – our checkered development pattern - can be reconsidered an opportunity. Metro Phoenix’s leapfrog development across 1,000 miles of desert has left the city with 40 percent of incorporated vacant land. These are the places where we can define the city’s future and have an impact. So many great things are already beginning to happen – through temporary activation Roosevelt Row, the arts community just north of Downtown Phoenix, has become a vibrant neighborhood despite almost half of its land is vacant lots. They have turned what others may see as weeds and dust into a field of sunflowers, monthly art festivals, and temporary pop-up parks. Now as the residential development market is regaining speed, a 325-unit residential mid-rise is currently under construction promising to bring at least as many new residents. The hope is that, over time, more and similar developments will engage Phoenix’s downtown urban core and bring with it 24/7 activity that comes from people not only working and attending events downtown but living there as well. Opportunities do not only lie on vacant infill lots. Existing properties can also be creatively re-imagined into new uses. As Jack Debartolo 3 points out in his article, “Rethink, Repurpose, Listen” modifications to, rather than the bulldozing of, our existing building stock offers the opportunity to provide sustainable building options and a city designed “with stories and layers, history and connections, use and reuse.” Many of Phoenix’s existing simple block and concrete structures provide ‘good bones’ that are ripe for interpretation, celebration, and an occasion to create unexpected combinations and uniquely “Arizonan” architecture. The same is true in other cities across the state. Ajo, for example, has a beautiful town square built during the City Beautiful Movement. As Chris Winters and Rob Paulus describe their Ajo project:

“The design team recognizes the beauty of environments aggregated by time, history and culture and values the memory embodied in the patina of place that results from the layering of ideas upon one another. Our approach to the maintenance of historic integrity while designing for the future lies in the realization that honoring the past is best accomplished through the evocation of memory and building upon evolving culture rather than blind preservation or repetition of form or style.”



letter from the editor

Rob Paulus architects is reimaging the future of Ajo with the community as a collaborator. Through public charettes and various engagement tools they are actively listening to and learning residents’ wants and needs for the future of their town. Through a process of designing the future they also hope to heal historical perceptions of injustice and inequality in the town. This is a tall order, but perhaps through increased dialogue divided neighbors can learn that perhaps they aren’t so different after all. I believe we can learn a similar lesson in our own communities. Through our own active engagement in civil discourse, we not only learn and understand the concerns of our neighbors but we can share our passion for architecture and urbanism. As Will Bruder also articulates in this issue:

“Together as architects who are educators, advocates and citizens we can excite not only our clients but also the general public about the capacity of architecture and urban design to enliven and transform the quality of daily life… Only with focus and passion can we continue to transform Phoenix into a place where we, and our children, and our children's children, want to be.”

Although Will speaks specifically about Phoenix, the message is the same regardless of whether you live in Phoenix, Tucson, Ajo, Flagstaff, or Denver. Through civic engagement and civil discourse we can advocate for the cities we want and the change we desire. Together, we can transform Arizona.

REFERENCes 1 2010 United States Census. 0_Profile/2010_Profile_Map_Arizona.pdf (accessed September 2012). 2 Arizona Department of Administration Office of Employment and Population Statistics. (accessed September 2012). 3 MacDonald, Glenn M. "Severe and sustained drought in southern California and the West: Present conditions and insights from the past on causes and impacts,” Department of Geography, UCLA.

3 (cont.) 040618207000882 (accessed September 2012). 4 Leinberger, Christopher B., “The Next Real Estate Boom,” The Brookings Institution, November 2010. real_estate_leinberger.aspx (accessed October 2011). 5 Downtown Denver Partnership, Inc. “Downtown Denver: A Magnet for the Future Workforce.” fileticket=oB0OhOdYp6U=&tabid=566 (accessed September 2012).



“I have been transformed by Phoenix, and tried to transform it.” introduction I have observed and interacted with this community from its desert edge to its urban core. While my habitation of Phoenix and professional practice has been continuous for the past forty-five years, my studio has changed vantage points over time. I have been a solo practitioner as well as leader of a partnership of 30 + professionals in a challenged time. In my life trajectory I have not always 'kept it simple,’ but my passion for this profession and this place has been consistent. I have been transformed by Phoenix and tried to transform it. In fact, I have recently come full circle as I am now once again 'recharged' by the possibilities of my new, smaller, hands-on studio practice on the Central Avenue corridor of Phoenix. Today, as on the first day I arrived, I am inspired by Phoenix’s history and optimistic about the potential of its transformation to a truly great city of its time.


from a desert a city grows

Phoenix has always been defined by the challenges of the summer sun and scarcity of water. Habitation has evolved because of the increasingly sophisticated manipulation of water and the transformation of the topography and landscape through architecture, design and engineering. It seems to have always been striving to be a year-round paradise. Dreamers have arrived and left depending on how their dreams were achieved or remained elusive. Mysteriously abandoned by the Hohokam after a relatively short occupation from approximately AD200 – AD1450, this alluring but inhospitable place was bypassed and avoided by the northerly Spanish expansion from Mexico in the 16th century. Only in the mid 19th century did Anglo and Hispanic settlers rediscover the potential of this mountain-framed flat valley of rich, river born soils. The land was quickly transformed with the overlay of the Jeffersonian grid of the country's western expansion and the rebirth of its ancient canal system charged by the damming of the Salt and Gila Rivers. By 1912, the year Arizona achieved statehood, Phoenix had begun life as a 20th Century city. From the riches of its year-round growing season, agricultural Phoenix grew strong, and with its mild winter climate tourism flourished for five months each year. A railroad connected Phoenix to Los Angeles to the west and Houston and New Orleans to the east, and through these port cities, the world. By 1921 fourteen streetcar lines connected central Phoenix to its "edges," today's near-in neighborhoods. Its natural and surreally attractive flora of cacti, creosote and mesquite, and its distant, distinctively defining mountain horizons made it a place that would inspire a unique architectural vision and identity. With agricultural maturity it became known as the 'City of Trees.'


“Habitation [in Phoenix] has evolved because of increased sophistication in architecture, design and engineering.”



Prosperous Growth in the Shadow of an Architectural Master

Phoenix’s built character would be fueled by the arrival of a mature, 60

The seminal post-war residential designs of California's Arts and

year old, Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright would leave indelible marks on the

Architecture Magazine's Case Study program coupled with the founding of

land and the imagination of the Valley: his resort design of the Arizona

the School of Architecture at ASU in 1960, set the stage for a modern

Biltmore Hotel built in 1928 in collaboration with his Oak Park

architect of desert sensibility. Challenging and desert appropriate work

apprentice Albert Chase McArthur, the San Marcos scheme of 1928-9, his

came forth especially between 1950 and 1970 from Al Beadle, Blaine

city planning vision of Broad Acre City conceived and modeled in

Drake, Dick Drover, Bennie Gonzalez, Ralph Haver and others. This work

Chandler in1929-35, and the construction of his winter home and studio,

was rich in its innovative use of desert materials, masonry, metal and

Taliesin West, in 1938 as well as numerous Usonian houses until the

glass, indoor / outdoor connections, and use of energy conscious passive

end of his life. He cast the language of an originally unique modernity

design strategies. Through unique integrations of sun and shade concepts

in celebration of the place. Along with a flock of pre-war apprentices, Paolo Soleri, 28, as a graduate of architecture from University of Torino, Italy, joined the Fellowship in 1947.

and caring site sensitivity this architecture would grow from its site as it reached to kiss the sky. From the beginning, the availability of cheap empty land has always


By the 1950's, with the end of the Depression and World War II, as well as the affordable evolution of mechanical air conditioning and car

pulled at Phoenix’s downtown heart. Del Webb, first a builder of military


base barracks and POW prison camps, saw opportunity going north on Central Avenue and built the first high rise residence, the Phoenix Towers

ownership, growth and development became Phoenix's prime industry

in 1957. His corporate headquarters would be built further north on

and reason for being. The combination of seemingly endless land and

Central Avenue from downtown to midtown. Thus the linear pattern of

easily constructed residential infrastructure fueled the practice of

urban Phoenix was defined in the spirit of Los Angeles’ Wilshire









communities. The complete harnessing of western water, including the Colorado River, stabilized the possibility of agricultural and then

To the east and west subdivisions of 'Haver' houses, Beadle multiples, the

population growth. These dynamics coupled with Wright's excellence

John F. Long modest production housing in Maryvale, and Del Webb's Sun

and eccentricity fired the imagination of many architects who began to

City, inspired by FLLW's Board Acre City thinking, fueled the sprawl that

see Phoenix as the land of opportunity.

would become the image of Phoenix to the world.

“Challenging and desert appropriate work came forth especially between 1950 and 1970 [...] this work was rich in its innovative use of desert materials, masonry, metal and glass, indoor/outdoor connections, and use of energy conscious passive design strategies.”



From the Fantasy World of Another Midwesterner’s Sandbox

Coming from the making tradition of my grandfather cabinetmaker and my

my transformational six week encounter as a Silt Pile 7 'workshopper'

father who supplemented his modest fireman’s wages as a

with the visionary Paolo Soleri at his Cosanti studios in Paradise Valley..

handyman/builder, there was always something being made in our basement or back yard. My vast model railroad layout and great sandbox

My experiences at Cosanti the following year, as an apprentice to Soleri,

shared those spaces. As a Milwaukee kid of 11 years, I was lucky enough

would thus form my core values about architecture. I felt the visceral joy

to live near the construction site of Wright's Greek Orthodox Church.

of discovering the beauty and possibility of the most normative, modest

Though it meant crossing busy intersections on my bike and going beyond

materials and means. I would gain inklings of their power to inspire an

my parent’s circumscribed zone of operation, I could not stay away from

architecture of context and timeless appropriateness. These precepts

this magical domed concrete sanctuary as it came to life a before my eyes.

became central to my design thinking. Soleri's evolving philosophy and

From freshman basic design at the young campus of University of

modeling of the 'arcologies' sparked my interest in efficiently dense

Wisconsin, Milwaukee, in 1965, where I would later earn my only formal

three-dimensional cities conceived at the scale of human interaction

degree, a BFA in sculpture, while working as an intern in the small, award

rather than the velocity of the automobile. I began to appreciate the

winning, progressive architectural firm of William P. Wenzler, my journey

importance of background and foreground, connecting spaces, proportion

into architecture was not to be stopped or diverted.

and scale, and the engagement of all the senses that make up the


memorable experiences of delight and wonder in the great cities of the With the grounding of my roots and the mentoring of many, steeped in the


reality of Wright’s built portfolio and inspired by the drawings and the concrete experiments of a young Paolo Soleri, in June of 1967, I would

Thus returning from my Arizona odyssey, I set out to complete my degree.

depart from the cabin door of a jet to be both overwhelmed and

Then armed with a BFA in sculpture and a self-made architectural portfolio

invigorated by the searing mid-day heat of Phoenix. From the plane, I

of some originality, to learn from other masters and make my way into the

walked directly out into the hottest day of my life toward the outdoor

profession. I was very lucky to find many gifted mentors, men like

baggage area at Sky Harbor Terminal 1. After a long and memorable bus

Birkerts, Goff and Schweikher, who shared their time and talent with me. I

ride from the airport to downtown Phoenix, then transferring up Central

brought to them a prodigious curiosity, a deep respect for making,

Avenue and east on Camelback Road, I was dropped off in a parking lot in

materials and craft, a mature work ethic and a wanderlust sparked by cross

front of a Goldwater's Department Store. A half mile walk up the road was

country family road trips to see what America had built.

the small one-story 'ranch style' motel that would become my home during


“My journey into architecture was not to be stopped or diverted” 3 6 11

From Outsider on the Edge to Life at the City’s Heart Back in Phoenix in 1970 my plan was to finish my apprenticeship, pass

architectural map as Phoenix entered 21st Century. Other cultural and

my licensing exams and strike out on my own. An early recognition for

educational institutions embraced the notion that architecture would

modest structures such as patios, remodels and interiors were a start. As

make them distinctive. The markers of desert design excellence and

means and time permitted I created a personal architectural library and I

sustainability continue to multiply.

traveled to see all that I could reach, knowing that architecture can only truly be understood by experiencing it.

Our completion of Phoenix Central Library in 1995 (though #317 in the job log of my studio) turned up the velocity and appetite of the practice


In 1974, with a first attempt pass of my licensing exams, I opened my

just as the velocity and appetite of the City was expanding. What had


one-man studio. By the next year the allure of the desert edge motivated

been a 30 minute ride from my desert studio to downtown Phoenix in

me to build my 850 sq ft studio and home on ten acres in New River,

1975 had by 2000 become an hour plus ride through intersection after

about 28 miles from central Phoenix. My persona and approach fit well

intersection lined with strip malls, subdivisions, and empty land studded

with the desert ethos of gritty individualism and experimentation.

with ‘for sale’ signs. My studio staff was clocking 600 miles per day back

Unlike more established, historically grounded cities, Phoenix offered a

and forth, compared to my luxury of a 30-yard walking commute. How was

place that was not calcified, a place where things could still happen, and

this a sustainable model?

a metropolis approaching 1,000,000 people where anyone could make a mark. Simultaneously, Arizona Highways Magazine and the Desert Botanical Garden continued to educate the public about the unique beauty of the desert. Creation of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve system brought relevance to the importance of untouched natural open spaces and set a landscape standard that would be expanded upon and nuanced by master designers in the future, most notably landscape architects Steve Martino and Christy Ten Eyck. With prosperity, a progressive vision, and a core of powerful and proud Phoenix business and political leaders, Phoenix began to make a public investment in civic projects. The library system became an early and steadfast patron of architecture. Indeed, through its fifty-year history of growing its system of branches, it has consistently supported exceptional desert appropriate modern architecture. The transformative


Mayor Terry Goddard would lead an optimistic citizenry through passage of a 1988 bond that would fund a new Central Library and several other pivotal cultural institutions. For the design of the Phoenix Central Library a thoughtful and well-managed request for qualifications was issued. Then Phoenix did a very Phoenix thing when from a field of twenty-five outside respondents, it took a chance on a local team. My small studio of three partnered with the greater resources of DWL to form bruderDWLarchitects and secured the collaboration of the international building systems engineers, Ove Arups. We were chosen for this prize commission. We worked closely with the head librarian, Dr. Ralph Edwards, and his staff, and held 28 citizen meetings to listen and learn. The ‘on-budget’ ($100/sq.ft.) library put the community on the



Ready for a New Century

Extensive travel to lecture, teach and do research, as well as my 1987

From my new perch, in a downtown mid-century modern high-rise on

Rome Prize that allowed me six months at the American Academy in

Monroe and 1st Avenue, (the Arizona Title Co. building designed by Dick

Rome, plunged me into cities of great beauty, tradition and invention.

Drover) I continued to see possibilities and promise for Phoenix. But in

While single-family dwellings have at times been the bread and butter

truth the next ten years were not easy for Phoenix. The general economic

of many practices, including my own, I became more and more convinced

downturn and our over dependence on real estate growth took its toll.

that the 'perspective of the city' would enliven and inform my work going

While a few brave developers commissioned work/live-mixed use and

forward. Personal and professional opportunities and changes enabled

repurposing projects, and the library system continued to build with

me to make this happen, and, in 2000, I moved to the urban center of

designated bond money, architecture for the most part sat on the sidelines.

Phoenix with the goal of becoming part of the conversation about my

Indeed opportunities from clients based outside the US kept my practice, by

city's future. I wanted then what I want now: to be part of this city's

then a partnership, going, sometimes just barely.

transformation. But because of long term planning and vision the rewards of urbanism are

The rewards of urbanism are beginning to show

beginning to show. Most recently our 25-mile light rail system has begun to catalyze urban densification and expansion is underway. Through multi-modal







transit-oriented housing and workplace environments at station sites, a more livable and pedestrian/bike transit connected community is emerging. Conceptual projects like Canalscape and Flip-a-Strip attracted professional engagement and public interest. Canalscape refocused our attention on the life sustaining and bike/pedestrian friendly irrigation canals that weave through Phoenix and intersect heavily trafficked surface streets. This reconceived resource could be developed into truly multi-modal network of development dynamically set against the grid of the city’s fabric with indoor/outdoor living, working and recreating opportunities aplenty. Flip-A-Strip asked designers to transform a handful of failing strip malls. Full models and project narratives were developed and mounted in exhibition at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. These projects have helped raise awareness of other intersections where density, infrastructure, and potential re-use opportunities exist. When the economy



improves such initiatives will go from concept to reality with a far greater frequency as the city embraces finer grain livability.

8 13

Transforming Our Urban Future Today the downtown ASU campus, biomed and business facilities have

Neighborhood associations, historic preservation activists, arts and

become anchors. They, like the infrastructure of the light rail, will not be

culture creators and consumers, as well as a few enlightened developers

going anywhere, and they are becoming catalysts for other development.

are increasingly more organized and vocal in the city's conversation. They

Their existence supports more confidence in the urban economic and

are today intervening to save singular endangered buildings like the

educational vitality and dynamism of our city. These large footprint

David Wright house by FLLW in Arcadia, the Sun Mercantile, and the St

institutions and players are transforming our city, bringing high wage

James and Madison Hotels in downtown. This advocacy continues even in

intelligence workers to its core to work and live. While the buildings that

the face of Proposition 207, which shockingly allows you to do anything

house them are all architect designed, all too often formulaic/mediocre

you want with your property no matter what the impact on the community

results still occur that have little to do with the desert appropriate

and its collective memory. Paradoxically the same Prop 207 has halted the

architecture that has become our community's expectation. How the

blanket designation of neighborhood-wide historic district preservation.

design of these new buildings/infrastructures 'fit with' and ‘respect’ what

Why not work instead to keep the jewels of these neighborhoods? While

has gone before is critical. Too many developer housing projects, the

overlay preservation designation tends to 'cast in amber' entire areas and

disappointing new CitySpace project, as well as the new County

deter real city building, heritage rules encouraging micro-changes to

Courthouse, are not of the quality we need.

existing structures and new interventions that are sensitive to

They look backward, not

forward, and do not meet even the barest of criteria of real desert


appropriate architecture. Finally, how does architecture reach out and

sustainability would help keep these valued areas vital and diverse. One

support the other urban stakeholders who do not have the political or

need only go a short distance outside historic preservation districts to see

monetary clout but nonetheless have their own highly developed urban

the beginnings of this where slightly smaller less 'well-boned' houses are

expectations and notions about livability. Can architects truly be solution

being worked on and loved. Such a mix is more diverse and sustainable in

providers for both ends of the spectrum from the 1% through the 99%?

the long run and will keep Phoenix real, contemporary and unique.







“we must advocate for fine-grained interventions that engage all of the senses at the human scale as they enrich the mix and rhythm of our city.”





While architecture likes to celebrate big ideas and bold moves, we must

Together as architects who are educators, advocates and citizens we can

also advocate for fine-grained interventions that engage all the senses

excite not only our clients but also the general public about the capacity

at the human scale as they enrich the mix and rhythm of our city. Study

of architecture and urban design to enliven and transform the quality of

of and experience in other desert cities, much older than ours, informs

daily life in Phoenix. Our work cannot be based merely on a 'style' or safe

us about shade, water, and the concept of oasis. Such knowledge

nostalgia but rather on truly listening to and looking carefully for

suggests strategies to make our place truly livable year-round.

opportunities to make places and structures, large and small, multiple

Implementation of form-based zoning approaches and newly defined

and one-off, private and public, that, while rooted in needs, deliver the

streetscapes with a revived policy focusing on shade creation will help

unexpected, the exciting, the materially appropriate and the gracefully

our city be yet more distinctive and livable.


Desert appropriate architecture needs not only clients and architects

Phoenix has a legacy of distinctive desert architecture in its DNA. How

who share a vision but engagement with citizens who do not spell

do we continue this thread? Every intervention we make in this city must

architecture with a capital A. This can mean activism to save a 'gem,'

be considered. Why not insert architecture, one building at a time, at the

change a proposition (207 anyone?), or reign in a misguided planning

highest, most rigorous level and in celebration of what is unique to this

effort. We all need to be in the room when planning, development and

place? Only with focus and passion can we continue to transform

policy issues are on the table, in the room when boards and

Phoenix into a place where we, and our children, and our children's

commissions meet, in the voting booth to overturn 207. This is hard,

children, want to be.

sometimes contentious, work, but our involvement can stimulate a more nuanced community dialogue and outcome.

the author Will Bruder explores inventive and contextually exciting architectural solutions in response to site opportunities and user needs. Will is a craftsman in his concern for detail and building processes, and a sculptor in his unique blending of space, materials, and light. Will’s ability to raise the ordinary to the extraordinary is renowned. Self-trained as an architect, Will has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Supplementing his studio art education were studies in structural engineering, philosophy, art history, and urban planning, followed by a full architectural apprenticeship under Gunnar Birkerts and Paolo Soleri. Since becoming registered and opening his studio in 1974 over 600 commissions have been undertaken and the work has garnered more than 100 awards and appeared in over 1200 publications worldwide.

Will Bruder, AIA images 1 “Manning the Canal”

6 Lightrail station in Downtown Phoenix

2 David Wright House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Phoenix, Arizona. Photo

7 Loloma 5 in Old Town Scottsdale

Courtesy Christina Noble AIA

8 Live/Work Units

3 Will Bruder Architects Ltd

9 Grand Canal: Urban Connectors by Will Bruder + PARTNERS

4 Will Bruder Former Home and Studio. 1974-2000. New River, Arizona

10 Deer Valley Rock Art Center

5 Phoenix Public Library by bruderDWL architects. Phoenix, Arizona

11 Conceptual Highrise. Phoenix, Arizona Photos courtesy of will bruder architects, unless noted otherwise



1 16




Cities are not abstractions. They are real in ways that country, province, or states that are circumsribed by political boundaries rather than shared interests will never be. Cities are our most enduring and substantial creations. Their scale, durability, and materiality represent our largest investments and the most compelling registrations of who we are as a society. Cities allow for cultural expression, diversity of employment, and social mobility in ways significantly different from agrarian arrangements. As hubs of commerce, government, research, transportation, and entertainment, these organizers of large and diverse populations crystallize much of what it means to be human. On our current trajectory, urban populations are projected to grow from 3 billion to 5 billion over the next 20 years. According to scientists at North Carolina University, on May 23, 2007, the earth’s population became more urban than rural for the first time in history.1 This new era is exemplified by many trends including the well-documented migration from rural to urban in Africa, the rise of the city-state in Asia, and the realization of the “aerotropolis” in the Middle East. Most importantly, by 2030 cities will be the locus of ¾ of the world’s energy demand. Universities, foundations and think-tanks have all seized upon this circumstance by launching any number of programs to address the attendant opportunities and challenges facing these burgeoning population centers- especially those unprepared for the abrupt increase. Cities are not abstractions. They are real in ways that country, province, or states that are circumscribed by political boundaries rather than shared interests will never be. At a time when science is fodder for political debate, cities serve as the ultimate laboratories for testing hypotheses and then living with the consequences of those experiments. They have an observable life of their own. As any mayor will confirm: your constituents are your neighbors; the buildings in your community are your businesses; the students on their way to school are your most valuable assets. Because a tracing of the past and a picture of the present is painted so vividly by the experience of the city in all of its dimensions, so too can a vision of the future be estimated in very concrete terms. Given the constancy of these reminders, it should not be surprising that our most dynamic, data-driven, and visionary leaders in this country are frequently the mayors of our great cities.


ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE FUTURE: NEW ORLEANS, DETROIT, PHOENIX Cities are brokers of complex truths, the result of decisions that are

“a forlorn, modern day Cheops”

registered on their very surfaces. Three exemplars in this regard are New Orleans, Detroit, and Phoenix; in Detroit parlance- the “New Big Three.” These cities are serving as the scouts for the rest of the nation as they confront some of our most pressing challenges. They have visited the frontlines of the future and are reporting back to the rest of us, a bit wobbly and worse for wear, but still standing and in some respects, rejuvenated. With plenty of evidence to support their claims, they can speak authoritatively on the impacts of aging infrastructure (New Orleans), economic globalization (Detroit), and climate change (Phoenix). They also share social, financial, and educational inequities


that are a drag on their respective futures and the nation as a whole. As such, they are important vitality indicators and reflective of the most critical issues of our time. An initial consideration of this triumvirate might seem discordant given their differences but no other cities in the U.S. have inspired more documentation of exuberance, decline and rebirth. A wealth of readily

“No other cities in the U.S. have inspired more documentation of exuberance, decline and rebirth”

available literature on each city captures the origins, drivers of success, and failure to attend to obvious warning signals. New Orleans and

unrealistic optimism to be generated and alter(s) our perceptions and

Detroit are, of course, the bookends to any contemporary discussion

actions. In order to understand the optimism bias, we first need to look

about extreme disruption to the urban core by external forces-

at how, and why, the brain creates illusions of reality.” The findings,

hurricane Katrina and international competitiveness, respectively. With

while directed at individual decision-making, seem to capture the

less drama but clearly visible stress points, the Phoenix region is

historical record of American urbanism as well. Given the enormity (if

coming to grips with issues of self-inflicted temperature increases and

not impossibility) of charting a course for a city and the implications of

reliable access to water, issues which authors have addressed for

getting it wrong, it is instructive to keep one of Sharot’s directives in

decades. The recently published, “Bird on Fire, Lessons from the World’s

mind: “We need to burst a giant bubble- the notion that we perceive the

Least Sustainable City (Phoenix),” by Andrew Ross, will continue the

world as it really is.” 3 This is what is so beguiling about cities- they


“Footage of the metro region’s outer-ring subdivisions

are simultaneously our most substantial material creations (“what

reclaimed by sage grass, tumbleweed, and geckos was as evocative of

really is”) but also places of illusion, especially for the inattentive

the bubble’s savage aftermath as photographs of the Dust Bowl’s


windblown soil had been of the Great Depression.”


Given the

preponderance of documentation, these cities tell us a great deal about

The optimism bias causes us to imagine a future in which things

ourselves in fundamental terms: what we value, what we don’t, and our

proceed according to plan thus encouraging the continuation of

prospects for the future, regardless of whether we choose to

conventional behaviors and goals setting based on current realities. It

acknowledge the evidence or not.

is hard to imagine functioning otherwise, the survival aspect being obvious. But, when applied to larger systems the bias can produce

New Orleans, Detroit, and Phoenix blossomed for very clear reasons:

unintended consequences of massive proportions. Officials in New

geography, industry, and mobility, the details of which reflect trends in

Orleans surely suffered from the affliction believing the levee walls

the U.S. as a whole. Their growth was also abetted by an agent we have

protecting the city were sound and the flood relief adequate (video

only recently come to know through behavioral research and real time

footage featuring then FEMA director, Michael Brown, is a case study).

images of brain function: the “optimism bias.” As Tali Sharot writes in

Moving to Detroit, the auto executive in the Renaissance Center or the

her book of the same title, “…the architecture of the brain…allows

teamster pushing yet another 4000 lb. vehicle off the assembly line,


both believing that “girth is good” and secure jobs will always be available as they have been for generations.4 In Phoenix, who could blame the developers and homebuilders for discounting the idea that sprawl is unsustainable when only a few years ago lines were forming simply for the right to place a bid on a new home, no matter how remote from one’s place of work, a grocery store, or elementary school? In each case, evidence upon which to base caution was available but our positive inclination blinded us to the underlying and unstable realities.


When an individual misjudges a situation, it is unfortunate. When a city does the same, it is a tragedy of massive proportions. The common denominator amongst these three examples pertains to the

applicable in this case.

“After spending so much of our time

complaining that globalization, consumerism, and suburbanization have made architecture invisible if not irrelevant, what do we have to

“When an individual misjudges a situation, it is unfortunate. When a city does the same, it is tragic.”

show when all eyes, for the moment, turn to our architecture? Let’s face it: when our built environment is made visible, the image is ugly.”7 His use of the adjective is only partially related to the visual aspects. In short, the city- absent the filter of the optimism bias- is a

evidence-based criteria about the future and how those insights were (or will be) leveraged. Forecasts for New Orleans, Detroit, and Phoenix have been plentiful, urgent, and vivid, as detailed in this essay. And yet, it appears extremely difficult- if not impossible- to use them to better advantage and to build consensus around the need for a change of course. Cities are especially compelling as signposts, given their monumental scale and scope, that are impossible to ignore.


apparently we have that capacity, and long before the digital haze shrouded much of our consciousness in ephemera and triviality. As Ross points out, “Living with the knowledge of steady decline in human and environmental welfare is more soul-destroying than the prospect of being snuffed out by an abrupt collapse of civilization. Yet this kind of knowledge does not lend itself to urgent, remedial action.”5 No doubt. Consider Warren and Wetmore’s Michigan Central Station as exhibit “A,” once the grand central of the Midwest and front door to the nation’s industrial might. Now it looms over Detroit with a singularity that few buildings in urban settings can command, what one observer called “a forlorn, modern day Cheops.”6 Is there any wonder why it has become a pilgrimage site for people seeking clues as to diminished American confidence or how even our most robust systems can go so gloriously wrong? “At this point the reflection becomes rather grim,” says the writer Fernando Lara when addressing the topic of urban decline and New Orleans, although his commentary certainly is

staggering presentation, one that is difficult to consume episodically. But cities are legible and present symptoms of stress and opportunity if we can bear to look. If not, we then must wait for a catastrophic event to reveal the subrogated reality that suddenly bursts through to the surface (the banking collapse of 2008 is an example with the same characteristics as many authors have made evident). One has to wonder how we will manage the more subtle but powerful forces shaping our future in fields that don’t provide such appreciable cues at street level. This is precisely why we should aggressively mine our cities for information about our true identities. A dozen topics could be used to demonstrate the overlapping interests, histories, and improvement strategies of the New Big Three. One could generate volumes on the impact of WWII, city governance, corporate consolidation, zoning, local journalism, the arts, and more recently, the impact of the professional sports industry’s growth, to name but a few. Indeed, these topics will be taken up in a future cross-media production featuring the New Big Three. In preparation for that work, a few critical intersections are worth highlighting.

“we should aggressively mine our cities for information about our true identities.” 19

the oil triangle In the United States, it would be impossible to overstate the impact of

The need to probe the Gulf at ever-deeper depths is a function of our

relatively cheap gasoline, an issue around which there is deep denial.

near total reliance on the automobile as the transportation mode of

New Orleans, Detroit, and Phoenix are implicated in an oil dependency

choice. Of course, car production placed Detroit at the pinnacle of the

triangle with domestic production, consumption, and lifestyle holding

world’s manufacturing capacity for much of the twentieth century and

down the respective corners. Each has prospered and even spawned

now the source of its distress. As Edward Glaeser said recently in the

unique sub-cities as a result: floating mechanical islands housing workers in the gulf, colossal factories along the Detroit river, and planned communities intended as self-contained worlds in the foothills of the desert. All impressive constructs. But, with “peak oil” in sight (the point at which the quantity of extraction begins to

New York Times, “Cities work best when they are filled with smart people and small companies that innovate by exchanging ideas. Huge automobile plants, like Henry Ford’s River Rouge Plant, were highly productive, but they were isolated from the rest of the city.”9 One might go further to suggest not only were the factories removed from the city but the American automobile industry was removed from the reality of

necessarily diminish), they are all testaments to our faith in what lies

fuel efficiency, new delivery methods, consumer demand, and the impact

deep within the earth rather than our ability to build a more logical and

of a globalized economy- the optimism bias in full gear. The decline

sustainable habitation on its surface.

has been precipitous: “No boomtown ever boomed so long or hugely as Detroit, and the city never got over it.”10

“New Orleans, Detroit, and Phoenix are all testaments to our faith in what lies deep within the earth rather than our ability to build a more logical and sustainable habitation on its surface.” 6

The carpeting of the Sonoran Desert with single-family detached dwellings would be unthinkable without Detroit as an enabler in the

For reasons of defense and transportation, a great city was inevitable at

form of affordable automobiles and the Gulf’s bounty to propel them.

the mouth of the Mississippi River. Thus the establishment of New

Interestingly, the sprawl of Detroit was legendary in its time and

Orleans and the original city grid (now the French Quarter) at the most propitious bend in the river (thus the “Crescent City”). However, the New Orleans gulf region has since become a critical source of oil for the U.S. and its economy is now significantly dependent upon the industry. But as the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) spill demonstrated, this engagement comes with considerable risk and the imperiling of a delicate but essential wetland. The latter is the front line of protection

produced a footprint larger than Manhattan, Boston, and San Francisco combined. Decades later, the expanse of contemporary Phoenix, a city built on personal mobility, is nearly twice Detroit in land area and its metro region could absorb all of the above several times over. Sheltered from the real costs of driving, a developer friendly environment, and relatively low-cost construction labor, the Phoenix

for New Orleans during the annual hurricane season and prevents it from

metro area incentivized the low density, horizontal city we experience,

becoming nothing more than a fortified island stranded in the gulf.

almost exclusively by car, today. Unprecedented in American urbanism

Journalist Mark Frishetti explains, “A year from now another 25 to 30

until the federal highway system was in place, Phoenix has been a

square miles of delta marsh--an area the size of Manhattan--will have

growth machine and the subject of much interest and documentation.

vanished. Each loss gives a storm surge a clearer path to wash over the

Altering this model is difficult to imagine for those who have

delta and pour into the bowl, trapping one million people inside and

benefitted from it- just as it was for the “big three” in Detroit when

another million in surrounding communities.” Anticipating in impact

challengers from Japan first reached American shores.

of a hurricane strike on New Orleans, in 2001 he wrote, “Extensive evacuation would be impossible because the surging water would cut off the few escape routes.”8 One of the many scripts written for Katrina long before her arrival on stage.


change is not the culprit

“Huge automobile plants, like Henry Ford’s River Rouge Plant, were highly productive, but they were isolated from the rest of the city.”



founders. The city planner and keen observer of process, Kristina Ford

In the course of their respective histories, both New Orleans (1830-50)

night and day, a new recourse for correcting old mistakes had become

and Detroit (1930-70) were ranked among the top three or four largest

thinkable. In the face of this destruction, rebuilding and reuniting the

cities in the U.S. The Phoenix metro area now hovers near the top five.

city’s absent population were now unarguably necessary.

In sharp contrast to many world cities, which are expanding

disastrous stroke, city planners were given an opportunity to do the jobs

exponentially, the three American examples under discussion, either by

they were trained to do- to devise how to use the city’s lands to the

necessity or as a hedge against diminished resources, have been


offered a post-Katrina analysis of the possibilities: “…in one terrible

By this

prompted to imagine a smaller footprint or, at a minimum, putting the brakes on growth.

While this was not a new concept, the re-imagining of New Orleans under duress provoked intense and contentious conversations about the

In the case of New Orleans, Katrina required emptying the city and the

wisdom of rebuilding, the transformation of below sea-level

dispersal of its citizens, many never to return. A host of post-hurricane

neighborhoods into parklands, and most importantly, who was driving

plans explicitly called for the contraction of the city onto land that was

the process of change. Even with the horrors of the storm fresh in the

more resistant to flooding- essentially the irrefutable logic of the

minds of its former residents, the desire to return “home” resulted in a


piecemeal planning strategy and the triumph of optimism over vision. For the sake of those once again occupying difficult locations, including


less than optimal services, one can only hope they are spared the ravages of another direct hit in their lifetimes. But there is no doubt about the likelihood of a future challenge to the city’s storm defenses.

NEW ORLEANS “…in one terrible night and day, a new recourse for correcting old mistakes had become thinkable. In the face of this destruction, rebuilding and reuniting the city’s absent population were now unarguably necessary. By this disastrous stroke, city planners were given an opportunity to do the jobs they were trained to do- to devise how to use the city’s lands to the betterment.”

8 “the resulting loss of opportunity, poverty, and disenfranchisement is reflected in once thriving neighborhoods being returned to a nearly rural condition.” If Detroit’s land to population ratio seems challenging, imagine reducing the density by half and, at the same time, doubling the city’s footprint. The result is contemporary Phoenix. It was the application of the factory efficiency model established by Henry Ford transferred to the production of housing that painted the landscape with a thin

For Detroit, rather than a singular catastrophic event, its reversal of

suburban gloss. Overlay this new residential model with extended drive

fortune is directly tied to a nostalgic view of the automobile and the

times, measurable heat island effects, reduced air quality, uncertain

insular culture surrounding it (see the recently published, “Car Guys vs.

water sources, and systems-level questions are necessarily prompted.

Bean Counters” by Bob Lutz, the former auto executive and

Most recently, images of halted developments as the result of the

Vice-Chairman of GM from 2001-2010, to see the limitations of an

mortgage backed security debacle alerted citizens and community

insider’s perspective). As the once bustling factories were shuttered

leaders alike to the undesirability, if not impossibility, of unmanaged

and business migrated overseas, the resulting loss of opportunity,

growth on the periphery of the metro area. The notion of an acre of

poverty, and disenfranchisement is reflected in once thriving

Sonoran desert being consumed by development ever hour is eerily

neighborhoods being returned to a nearly rural condition. In the most

similar to the statistic associated with the disappearance of the

impacted areas, aerial views of present day Detroit and post-Katrina

Louisiana coastline.

NOLA have an uncanny resemblance and necessarily prompt questions about how best to respond to a condition of erasure. For Detroit,

With more than half of the homes in the region “under water” (a

maintaining a city of several hundered square miles while suffering the

mortgage amount greater than appraised value), there is a quiet erosion

loss of 50% of its population over the past half century (accelerating to

of confidence in the previous models of development. Many who

25 percent in the last decade) remains daunting.

The images of

profited greatly from “sprawl” are speaking openly of a need to turn

abandonment are comparable and so too has been the difficulty of

their gaze inward. But given the relative prosperity of the region and

advancing a vision of the future. As in the case of post-storm New

expectations of a rebound (i.e. Phoenix has not faced a calamity of

Orleans, it has not been for a lack of trying- especially at the political,

Detroit’s or New Orleans’s proportions), finding the strategic equivalent

business, community, and philanthropic levels.

In fact, there are

to the Rust Belt’s “shrinking city” planning strategy will be

extraordinarily positive stories of a rebound in both cities to which I

astonishingly difficult even though it is just as necessary. When

will return at the conclusion of this essay. But absent a comprehensive

business is so good that it can be measured in 10,000-acre units,

urban strategy, a situation consistent with a loss of faith in government

pausing to consider the consequences is nearly impossible. The recent

accountability and the common good, Detroit is left to simply demolish

slowdown has afforded the region a period of contemplation, which may

thousands of disused properties in anticipation of future decisiveness.

prove to be a liberating opportunity for reinvention.



“When business is so good that it can be measured in 10,000-acre units, pausing to consider the consequences is nearly impossible. The recent slowdown has afforded the region a period of contemplation, which may prove to be a liberating opportunity for reinvention.”



“In many cities, more highly charged than the numbers of residents is the question of their distribution.” In many cities, more highly charged than the numbers of residents is the

was contemplated, Mayor Nagin gave voice to the tension: “We as black

question of their distribution. Once again, the commonalities of the

people, it’s time, it’s time for us to come together. It’s time for us to

three cities in question are instructive and say much about the

rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans.

unfinished work of the nation.

And I don’t care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.”12

Katrina exposed what was known to anyone familiar with New Orleans: the areas most likely to suffer from the inevitable floods were primarily

Similarly, one cannot view contemporary Detroit without an

composed of minority residents of limited means.

For many days

understanding of race, politics, and critical points in history such as the

following the hurricane, television reports from the scene made this

riots of ’67. While not racial in their origin, the mayhem that followed

abundantly clear.

Acknowledging that many of the disadvantaged

served to conflate inner city America with “trouble.” This, in turn,

families who were forced to flee might not have the financial

accelerated the flight to more stable suburban locales for those with

wherewithal to return gave post-storm meetings about reconstruction

the capacity to do so, including members of the minority community.

and relocation a sharp edge. As a new demographic profile for the city

Four decades later, no other city in the U.S. can produce a map with such abrupt boundaries separating racial and socio-economic groups.


DETROIT “The challenge for both New Orleans and Detroit is to balance support for those who have endured in these cities under desperate circumstances while at the same time encouraging the influx of others who may be the key to a brighter future.”


In Detroit, as in New Orleans, questions of governance, representation, and motivations are especially fraught. But like the “Crescent City,” there is a minor renaissance taking place in Detroit featuring the arrival of young people seeking opportunity. “Recent census figures

“Four decades later, no other city in the U.S. can produce a map with such abrupt boundaries separating racial and socio-economic groups.”

show that Detroit’s overall population shrank by 25 percent in the last 10 years. But another figure tells a different and more intriguing story. During the same time period, downtown Detroit experienced a 59 percent increase in the number of college-educated residents under the age of 35, nearly 30 percent more than two-thirds of the nation’s 51 largest cities.”13 The challenge for both New Orleans and Detroit is to balance support for those who have endured in these cities under desperate circumstances while at the same time encouraging the influx of others who may be the key to a brighter future. Downtown Phoenix also enjoys the benefits of a youthful and engaged creative community determined to provide the cultural density and excitement associated with thriving urban centers, a noble undertaking in a region where the car dominates and walkable districts are few and limited in scope. But not far from this activity, one can find contrasting neighborhoods that were the first iterations of Fordist production methods with their emphasis on speed and uniformity rather than the


less quantifiable aspects of community building. Like the lowlands of New Orleans or the abandoned city blocks of Detroit, these areas are proximate to the center of the city and were prosperous in their day (John Long’s Maryvale, a “planned community,” is the premier example). But absent the charm or craftsmanship reflected in many examples to be found in New Orleans or Detroit, the idea of contingency was built into the very walls of these homes. Predictably, these generic structures and areas around them are perpetually in flux and home to those trying to gain access to the lower rungs of the American Dream. While the original residents of the post-WWII era took advantage of the new mobility, the next wave of aspirants, mostly Hispanic, has moved in to take their place. Imagining a vital Phoenix without the rejuvenation of

11 24

these neighborhoods and instilling upward mobility in their populations is simply not an option.

Just as we are approaching “peak oil,” census numbers suggest that “peak whiteness” or a majority position in the U.S. population is about to become a historical footnote. The demographic future arrived long ago in places like Phoenix where the simple act of watching children on their way to school announces the change. An emergent Hispanic majority is inevitable in Phoenix just as former “minority” populations have been critical to the histories of New Orleans and Detroit. Unfortunately, we remain slow learners and the transition has not been fully acknowledged or its potential embraced, in part, because the beneficial by-products are hard to quantify. As Andrew Ross reminds us

“The big question is this: how vulnerable are our modern societies to hydrological breakdown? When the rivers run dry, will our own civilizations buckle? Is salt waiting to turn our best endeavors to dust? One place to look is the American West, where the epicenter of the coming water crisis may be Phoenix, Arizona.”17

after having scrutinized the many neighborhoods of Phoenix, “…there are no indexes for measuring environmental justice, no indicators for

What makes this commentary so confounding is its contrast with the

judging equity of access to the green life, and no technical quantum for

lead sentence in this essay: “Cities are our most enduring and

assessing the social sustainability of a population.”(15) The proof will

substantial creations.” If cities are not only physical but collective

most likely be found on the streets of the city, not in census data, and

societal investments, what does it say about our command of the future

we would do well to mine this information with equivalent vigor.

if we are unable to absorb and digest the messages that they convey so

say it ain’t so

powerfully? One response is offered by curator, Barbara Tannenbaum, commenting on the exhibition, “Detroit Disassembled,” a collection of the photographs by Andrew Moore: “That dissonance between the beauty

One can see how the topics of fossil fuels, environmental footprints,

and sense of waste and destruction and decay leads you to really

and demographic shifts overlay neatly upon the three cities in question.

consider not just the situation of Detroit but to put them in a larger

Obviously, they share many comparable challenges that can be found

context of the rise and fall of civilizations, the deep relationship

elsewhere in the country. What separates them is the singularity and

between human endeavors to build and nature’s ability to overwhelm

fragility of their dependencies. The literature dedicated to exposing

and overcome.”18 Knowing the optimism bias- literally the wiring of our

this circumstance is plentiful:

brains- not just corporate miscalculation, lies behind these set pieces

“New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen. The city lies below sea level, in a bowl bordered by levees that fend off Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south and west. And because of a damning confluence of factors, the city is sinking further, putting it at increasing flood risk after even minor storms.”15

makes them even more revealing. The disconnect between expectations of permanence and cities in extreme distress turns us all into gawkers.

It is simply hard to

rationalize the scale of the enterprise/demise equation. Piranesi fully understood Rome to be mythic in this regard and built an industry around our fascination with empire and decay. Hollywood exploits this attractor and levels city after city on a regular basis (New York has been particularly susceptible (i.e. War of the Worlds, Escape From New York, Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, I am Legend, etc.). But nothing is as mesmerizing as the real thing. Said one resident,

“Detroit’s twentieth-century growth brought hundreds of thousands of less-well-educated workers to vast factories, which became fortresses apart from the city and the world. While industrial diversity, entrepreneurship, and education lead to innovation, the Detroit model led to urban decline. The age of the industrial city is over, at least in the West.”16

“Detroit is being descended on by a plague of reporters. If you live on a block near one of the city’s tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, you can’t toss a chunk of Fordite without hitting some schmuck with a camera worth more than your house.”19 A Grayline bus tour in New Orleans announces: “An eyewitness account of the events surrounding the most devastating natural- and man-made- disaster on American soil!”

It goes on, “The direct connection between America’s

disappearing coastal wetlands, oil & gas pipelines, levee protection and hurricane destruction will be explained.”20 Just as so many authors were doing decades before Katrina.


Not to be outdone, it is instructive to remember that the notion of the

Education may be the way forward and a leading indicator of vitality.

“ghost town” is an Arizona legacy and now a contributor to its tourism

DETROIT Thanks to the leadership of President Scott Cowan, Tulane University, an


Of course, Phoenix has yet to suffer a crisis comparable to

institution whose very existence was in doubt following Hurricane

its sister cities but cannot be complacent. Matters of integration,

Katrina, now attracts more applications from prospective students than

education, and economic opportunity for much of the population are

any other private school in the country and has been instrumental in the

just as pressing.

So too are extreme environmental imperatives

rebound of this great metropolis. Similarly, the New Orleans Recovery

including the verifiable raising of the night time temperature (the “heat

School District is producing results in a city identified with a failing

island effect”) by way of man-made construction and transportation

model. A recent Wall Street Journal article characterized the turnaround,

networks. If one needs a more explicit visual cue to future challenges,

“Hurricane Katrina wiped out resistance from politicians and unions and

the bathtub rings circling Lake Mead should give pause. But as Sharot

improbably made the Big Easy a national laboratory of educational

reminds us, while we need to be observant of the urban landscape, we

reform.” Superintendent John White outlines the major difference: “In

need to be even more so of the mechanism processing the information:

other cities, charter schools exist in spite of the system. Here charter

“The brain is organized in a hierarchical structure. It is this precise

schools are the system.”

arrangement that allows our expectations to influence both our

encouraging statistics: “Five years ago, 23% of children scored at or

perception of reality and our actions- thereby altering reality itself.”21

above “basic” on state tests; now 48% do. Before Katrina, 62% attended

Thus to some, Lake Mead is still half full. To others, it provides the

failing schools; less than a fifth do today.”23

The WSJ report offers the following

clearest signal that our expectations of an uninterrupted supply of water cannot be met given current rates of consumption and changing

The New American University project at ASU conceptualized by current

environmental circumstances. What then to do?

President Michael Crow is a highly touted initiative that has gained national and even international recognition. It has been transformative

If harnessed and used to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles

for the Phoenix metro area and, most importantly, was initiated without

in our path, the optimism bias can be a powerful tool for change.

a calamity to provide a jump-start but is a direct response to observable

Indeed, this is precisely what is happening in New Orleans, Detroit, and

environmental, societal, and economic storm clouds on the horizon.

Phoenix, each of which are being infused with a shot of expectation as

Essentially the University has adopted the city as its laboratory and has

newcomers undaunted by the remnants of past endeavors “create

been insistent that the measures of its success are to be found in the

illusions of reality” that can be productive drivers. This is part of the

community, which it directly serves. It is also notable for combining the

American ethos from which we can draw strength. In his recently

success of the city and knowledge creation, a theme that Friedman

released book, “That Used to Be Us,” Tom Friedman identifies the people

echoes: “While infrastructure has underpinned economic activity since

who are reprogramming these cities as those “who didn’t get the word”

the time of the Roman Empire with its impressive roads and aqueducts,

or “who are just too dumb to quit.” The “Make It Right” housing

research and development has become vital only in modern times, and its

development in New Orleans, the comprehensive Detroit Works planning

value is growing. Economic growth in the United States will increasingly

project, or the New American University initiative at ASU in Phoenix are

come from innovation, and innovation is more and more the product of

all examples of people “not getting the word” about what is impossible

both incremental advances and decisive breakthroughs in science and

within the world as it is conventionally presented.

technology, which funding for research and development supports.”25


“If harnessed and used to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our path, the optimism bias can be a powerful tool for change.” “Education may be the way forward and a leading indicator of vitality.”


And where does this work take place? Almost invariably, the research universities attached to the majority of our GDP are located in the major cities of the United States as each nurtures and reflects the best qualities of the other. Whether we can operate in a reactive or proactive mode says everything about our prospects for the future. Just as there was knowledge of the inadequacy of the surrounding levee walls, so too was the need to overhaul the New Orleans schools system in 2005. And post-Katrina, we have proven that we have the capacity to imagine a different reality and implement more effective systems. Yet it was a totally unrelated infrastructural breakdown, an observable and documented condition, which ultimately led to the long overdue attend to the needs of our children and their education in this city. One can only ask what other clues to prosperity are directly in front of us but camouflaged by the optimism bias. The question these cities frame is obvious- can we, as a society, adjust our trajectory based on obvious need without the prompt of a catastrophic event? Or can we recognize that we may be

“Can we, as a society, adjust our trajectory based on obvious need without the prompt of a catastrophic event? Or can we recognize that we may be experiencing such an event right now and not know it?�

experiencing such an event right now and not know it? The New Big Three offer a wealth of indications.

12 27

in conclusion


Whether insufficient engineering in New Orleans, foreign competition

college towns. To the degree that state governments are controlled by

invading Detroit, or uninhibited growth in Phoenix, the issues sure to

global losers, they’ll be crippled in meeting globalization’s challenge.”

impact these cities have been widely disseminated well in advance of

Without question, this judgment is harsh and flies in the face of the

the perverse spectacles they would (or in the case of Phoenix, could)

current trend in Washington to avoid critical issues by hiding in the

become. So is their massive potential if challenges are converted into

bunkers of states’ rights and “American exceptionalism.” Longworth is

opportunities. In Watergate parlance, “What we knew and when we knew

correct to suggest the need for a new and competitive game plan: “The

it,” are the essential long-range questions presented so brilliantly by

job of state government in this new world is to get out of the way of this

cities in a way that cannot be distorted by the perceived crises of the

new regional future, while providing some sort of safety net for those

moment. But history raises the question of whether we have the

left behind. The job of the new dominant cities is to join in new and

fortitude to influence political, economic, environmental, and cultural

powerful alliances, to mount a twenty-first century power base, to

trajectories without the ingredient of fear. How we did, can, or will

leverage their strengths.”27 Much of the rest of the world has adopted

respond to available information in a proactive manner says much about

this game plan while we are on the sidelines arguing amongst

our ability to speak convincingly about “sustainability.” If nothing


else, the definition must include the courage to respond to critical signals like those provided by our cities.

While the globe is constantly being smoothed or “flattened,” cities have emerged as the most meaningful points of differentiation. In the United

As difficult as the message might be, it is worth returning to the

States, the path to a greater understanding of the definitions of

historian Richard Longworth and his tell-it-like-it-is explanation of

resilience, sustainability, and reinvention surely leads through New

why the system that has served U.S. well in its first two centuries might

Orleans, Detroit, and Phoenix, a trio that is uniquely instructive in this

be inadequate for the third: “Globalization really does lead to an

regard. Accumulating the collected wisdom from these examples and

urban-rural split. In too many states, the present is anchored to rural

applying it in advance of an averted crisis will be the challenge of our

areas and small towns that control state governments and state

generation and a model for governance at the national level. How our

legislatures. More and more, these rural area and their people are being

children envision the American city as a place of innovation and

left behind, cut out of the global conversation, far from the global

opportunity will be the test of our success and the determining factor

action, embittered by loss and resentful of the global elite in cities and

regarding our place in the world community.

THE AUTHOR Over the past twenty years, Wellington “Duke” Reiter has played numerous roles: academic administrator, faculty member community leader, architect, urban designer, and public artist. In the course of his career, he has established a track a record of highly effective partner- ships with public office holders, the business community, non-profit groups, professional organizations, developers, and universities. Central to his diverse portfolio of experience has been the construction of mutually beneficial relationships between the institutions he has led and the cities in which they are located. He helped to spearhead the collaboration between the City of Phoenix and ASU that resulted in the new downtown campus and was responsible for the urban design aspects of the project. In his role as the Special Advisor to the President of Arizona State University, he has been asked to train his design

Wellington Reiter, FAIA

talents on the subject of Knowledge Enterprise Architecture. Mr. Reiter is the past President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the former Dean of the College of Design at Arizona State University, and a long-term faculty member at MIT. Reiter is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and has been the recipient of numerous design awards.


images 1,6 Holding Up History by Chris Luckhardt

7 “The Rouge” 2009, from the series Detroit Disassembled

2 Abandoned Michigan Building by Chris Luckhardt

Photograph © Andrew Moore, Courtesy of Yancey Richardson Gallery

3 Lake Mead and Hoover Dam water intake towers, as seen from the

8 Detroit by Alex MacLean

Arizona side of Hoover Dam. Photo taken November 2010. Image

9 Christoph Gielen


10 Michigan Central Station by Chris Luckhardt





11 Forever by Chris Luckhardt

4 Michigan Central Station by Chris Luckhardt

12 Abandoned Building in Detroit by Chris Luckhardt

5 New Orleans British Petroleum Oil Spill. Image courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.

references 1 ScienceDaily, May 25, 2007, Mayday 23: World Population Becomes

14 Andrew Ross, Bird on Fire, Lessons from the World’s Least

More Urban Than Rural

Sustainable City, (Oxford University Press, London, 2011) p. 245

2 Andrew Ross, Bird on Fire, Lessons from the World’s Least

15 Mark Fishetti, “Downing in New Orleans,” Scientific American,

Sustainable City, (Oxford University Press, London, 2011) p. 3

October 2001

3 Tali Sharot, The Optimism Bias, (New York, Random House, Inc., 2011)

16 Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City, (Penguin Press, New York,

p. xvii

2011) p. 8-9

4 “Average U.S. Car is Tipping Scales at 4000 Pounds,” New York Times,

17 Fred Pearce, When the Rivers Run Dry, (Beacon Press, Boston, 2006)

5 May 2004

p. 193

5 Andrew Ross, Bird on Fire, Lessons from the World’s Least

18 “Capturing the Idling of the Motor City,” New York Times, 21 August

Sustainable City, (Oxford University Press, London, 2011) p. 24


6 “Capturing the Idling of the Motor City,” New York Times, 21 August

19 John Gallagher, Reimagining Detroit, Opportunities for Redefining


and American City (Wayne State University Press, 2010) p. 26

7 “Explicit Ruins: Architecture is More Visible When It Fails,”

20 Grayline Tours,

Fernando Lara, from What is a City, Phil Steinberg and Rob Shields, eds.

21 Tali Sharot, The Optimism Bias, (New York, Random House, Inc.,

p 59-60

2011) p. 204

8 Mark Fishetti, “Downing in New Orleans,” Scientific American,

22 Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, That Used to Be Us,

October 2001

(FSG, New York, 2011) p. 298

9 “Can Detroit Find the Road Forward?” New York Times, Economix, 22

23 “The Big Easy’s School Revolution,” Wall Street Journal, 7 July 2011

February 2011

24 Andrew Ross, Bird on Fire, Lessons from the World’s Least

10 John Gallagher, Reimagining Detroit, Opportunities for Redefining

Sustainable City, (Oxford University Press, London, 2011) p. 29

and American City (Wayne State University Press, 2010) p. 36

25 Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, That Used to Be Us,

11 Kristina Ford, The Trouble with City Planning, What New Orleans Can

(FSG, New York, 2011) p. 355

Teach Us, (Yale University Press, 2010) p.4

26 Source:

12 Chocolate City Speech, p

27 Richard Longworth, Caught in the Middle, (Bloomsbury, New York,

13 “Detroit Pushes Back with Young Muscles,” New York Times, 1 July

2008) p. 263



RETHINK, REPURPOSE, LISTEN jack debartolo III, aia Debartolo architects

Phoenix is a city in transformation... introduction Phoenix is a city in transformation. Though incorporated only 131 years ago, Phoenix is now the fifth largest city in the nation, home to nearly 1.6 million people within its boundaries.

Compared to her older 'top-five' siblings – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston – Phoenix is

geographically the second largest, with over 500 square miles of incorporated land, while accommodating the lowest density, with just over 2,800 people per square mile. Comparatively, Phoenix is a moody teenager desperately trying to grow up. The fast pace of recent development and enormous growth, in a relatively short timeframe, likens this city to a gawky teen, complete with a 'body' that is awkwardly larger than its current level of control and poise can effectively manage. This teen, though physically large enough, is certainly not yet a 'full-grown' metropolis. There have been several rapid-fire population booms in the short history of Phoenix, bringing large numbers of transplants to the valley from all over the nation. With each infusion of inhabitants, coupled with the inevitable increase in available money and city tax-base, there has typically been a quick, from-the-hip, rapid development response within the built environment that has seemingly been more concerned with hastily providing for the influx of new inhabitants and less concerned with long-term strategies implemented for proper development and city growth. The hungry child simply took in whatever it could devour within reach, without much thought for what a diet of better 'nutritional value' might do to bring about healthy adulthood.


This 'just-in-time' approach to nurturing the urban growth has resulted in the haphazard, far-reaching, unconnected development that typifies the urban Phoenix landscape. It has previously always been so easy to buy cheap land and build cheaply; it has always been more appealing to move outward than to remain in the developing interior. The result of this attitude is an infrastructure that is now physically massive and over-stretched. Yet, we are faced with a cityscape full of holes, empty lots and vacant buildings; the result of construction in a time when it seemed like there was no end to the growing demand.

1 a shift is occurring With the downward trends of the recent economic situation, the cost to

Adaptive reuse is an old term, but it is currently being applied to the

the city and to the building developers to continue to expand outward is

language of a city filled with buildings that were never intended to be

unable to be met. A shift is occurring, where cities, owners and

repurposed, much less slated for preservation. Great cities make use of

developers are seeing the value of remaining closer to the interior,

great old buildings, but they have been historically constructed of

developing new solutions to old problems. Today, more clients are

authentic, old, durable materials that have integrity and honesty in

considering the reuse of an older (relative term) structure to meet a new

their use and function. The real challenge to the Phoenix design

need, instead of buying more land and building something new. This

community comes when we are faced with reusing buildings that were

paradigm shift is positive and has the potential for making a richer,

not constructed to outlive their initial use, when the construction

more sustainable city; where old skating rinks become churches, old

materials were based on minimal investment and lowest initial cost. As

grocery stores and machine shops become restaurants and warehouse

architects, designers and shapers of the urban realm, we must search for

buildings become high schools. Phoenix, like her older siblings, may

ways to root out and find quality, preserve the richness that we do have,

finally become a city with stories and layers, history and connections,

reuse what we can and re-purpose that which has value.

use and reuse.

“Great cities make use of great old buildings� 31

rethink, repurpose, and listen Despite the young age, Phoenix still has a history and a culture that, though fragile and delicate, is in tact and dotted with several significant historical events and important architectural achievements. Already some, in the name of quick development and lower initial costs, have been threatened or have even been erased from cultural memory. The city must elevate the value being placed on 'architecture' as the 'mother art.' Frank Lloyd Wright said ', without an architecture of our own, we have no soul of our own civilization.'



“Inspired re-development is enhancing communities, stabilizing neighborhoods, cultivating art and culture, incubating local businesses and renewing life in old properties.” It is critical that, as designers, architects, developers and planners, we

The reuse of an existing facility has many layers – it makes references

RETHINK the nature of adaptive reuse as a wonderful way to REPURPOSE

to a past and to a future – superimposed one over the other and creating

the rich and delicate history of our city, before we carelessly consider

a potential for something far richer than the often-typical

removal. Reuse may not always be the appropriate option, but in all

‘one-dimensional’ nature of new architecture many times tends to be.

cases, it makes sense that it should be seriously considered and tested

When an old space can be revived to take on a new use, both the past and

before moving forward with a new project. Lorenzo Perez, of Venue

the future use of the building are celebrated and honored. Restaurants

Projects, (one of the creative minds behind the Windsor/Churn project on

have often led the way in this pursuit. The well-known LGO (La Grand

Central Ave.) offered a wise piece of advice: “Inspired re-development is

Orange) restaurant and grocery, as well as the neighboring restaurant,

enhancing communities, stabilizing neighborhoods, cultivating art and

Postino, adapted inside the old Arcadia Post Office, were ably

culture, incubating local businesses and renewing life in old

transformed in the mid-1990’s.

properties.” This is an important lesson when we think about the mid-century architecture of Phoenix from 1945-1975. “Landmarks anchor

Typically, it takes a team of sensitive and creative people who know

us into both time and place,” said Alison King (of

their discipline well and can collaborate as they LISTEN to the old

about the rich area known as 'Architects Row' at Central Avenue and

structure, straining to understand what it can become and what it

Camelback Road, where the recent revival of several of these 'landmarks'

already is. This initial “reading” of the building is one of the most

have resulted in thriving businesses growing out of adapted structures.

critical steps in the Adaptive Reuse process of design and needs to happen early and carefully by a team of experts. The existing building

When asked if he would like a new building or an old building for a

will provide significant clues to the new use of the spaces. By example,

restaurant, Chris Bianco (Award Winning chef known for his famous

in a recent adaptive reuse of the 1963 Arizona Bank building, which was

Pizzeria Bianco) said, “I would always prefer the funky old one….” Life

transformed into the new Vig Uptown Restaurant, the precast concrete

becomes richer when things tie into and relate to other things; it is

vault was discovered under layers of remodeled cover-ups and

powerful and transformative when old things inform the way new things

celebrated as the wine storage area in the middle of the new restaurant.

are done.


“When you reuse an old building for a new use, you make it even more powerful,” stated Chris Bianco, while discussing the added value brought about when creative designers, builders and engineers sit around a table and collaborate to come up with powerful reuse strategies for existing facilities. The western mentality of forcibly building or making whatever you want-- or getting “raspberries in January,” as Bianco calls it -- is a wasteful and shallow approach compared to rich design that locks a building to its place, history and time. Bianco is passionate about reusing old buildings as a way of celebrating what it was and what it wants to be... even if the space is “imperfectly-perfect,” or in his words: “so not-cool that its cool.” It takes looking deeply at the structure and evaluating its strengths and weakness, analyzing its qualities and using excellent design to accentuate the finest elements of the structure.


“As architects, designers and shapers of the urban realm, we must search for ways to root out and find quality, preserve the richness that we do have, reuse what we can and re-purpose that which has value.” A critical step is demolition and clean up. Once it has been decided to reuse the building, Bob Hardison, (Hardison/Downey Construction,


currently re-constructing Manzanita Hall) stated that “it is highly recommended that you clean out and 'scrape back' the old structure, before you fully conceive its new use.” Often this can involve a process of removing years of buildup and layers of added 'inexpensive' elements such as lay-in ceilings, or layers of vinyl composite tile, in order to reveal and expose the essential 'bones' of the structure. This is often where we find the soul of the building, we take it back to its origin and can see the form, material and light; this can allow us to see the value it may bring to the next generation of use. Often, even mediocre buildings from the 40’s and 50’s, have elegantly simple structural systems or contain beautiful rationality in their order and making.

These unique elements, especially compared to the less

endowed lower-initial-cost (cheap) buildings of our recent history, can become THE critical gesture of a project.

It is vital that these

evaluations happen early enough in the process to allow them to influence and shape the new program and new use.

6 33

closing thoughts As Phoenix looks to the future, we must begin to re-think building for the future. True sustainability must include the idea that quality buildings, while using more sustainable materials, must first be constructed to outlast their initial use. Sustainability must have an eye toward a future beyond the initial purpose; allowing the idea of sustainability to be economical, cultural, historical and material. By applying rational thinking to the design and development process, it will inspire others to re-use the structure and design buildings that reference their surrounding context, both natural and urban. The role of existing structures will continue to change as the city transforms and matures – they will be a landmark and a piece of history, as well as the future -- and they will become increasingly more valuable, as we see the land below them become more precious and the cost of new construction continue to rise. Adaptive reuse has the power to transform the fabric of our city; if used appropriately, it cannot help but add richness and depth. If we reuse the quality structures we currently have and build new structures with integrity and honesty about their longer life – the built realm will contribute to the richness of our city. It will nurture our young city to develop beyond the teen-years and become a productive and mature adult, as the largest south-western city in the nation.


This article was written and based on the first part, in a four-part series, on Transformation Phoenix – chapter meetings at the Phoenix Metro Chapter of the AIA. The discussion took place on 28 June 2012 and included Bob Hardison, Lorenzo Perez, Alison King, Chris Bianco. The event was moderated and led by Jack DeBartolo 3 AIA.


the author

Jack Debartolo 3 is the principal and design leader of debartolo architects, graduated from The University of Arizona College of Architecture and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he received honors for his Master’s thesis in architecture in 1994. From 1994 to 1996, DeBartolo worked with innovative desert architect, Will Bruder, supporting his firm in making architecture that strives to be timeless and poetic. In 1996, DeBartolo joined his father, forming the studio of debartolo architects, where for 12 years they collaborated in making ‘significant’ architecture in the academic, religious and residential markets. Dedicated to ‘architectural excellence’, the studio has gained a reputation for creating potent architecture through the innovative use of common materials within the discipline of restraint and simplicity, shaping space with light and material.

Jack DeBartolo 3, AIA images 1 Hanny’s Restaurant, adaptive reuse project in downtown Phoenix. Photo Courtesy Suad Mahmuljin 2 The Vig Uptown, adaptive reuse project in uptown Phoenix 3 Windsor Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant, bar and seating area, North Central Phoenix 4 Windsor Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant, host/ess stand 5,6 Manzanita Hall, ASU Campus, before and after 7 Windsor Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant, entrance Photos courtesy of Debartolo Architects, unless noted otherwise


BORDER LINES eddie jones, aia border lines A weight carried by two Weighs only half as much.

The world on a map looks like the drawing of a cow In a butcher’s shop, all those lines showing Where to cut. That drawing of the cow is also a jigsaw puzzle, Showing just as much how very well All the strange parts fit together. Which way we look at the drawing Makes all the difference. We seem to live in a world of maps: But in truth we live in a world made Not of paper and ink but of people. Those lines are our lives. Together, Let us turn the map until we see clearly: The border is what joins us, Not what separates us. Alberto Rios, 2003




Border Lines [Lineas Froterizas] was commissioned in 2003 by then Governor Janet Napolitano in honor of the visit of Mexico’s President Vincent Fox to Arizona. Rios wrote these words for “public purpose,” and in it, Rios reminds us of our responsibility to each other, despite and because of, the invisible borders we draw around ourselves each day. There are eight official land ports of entry in Arizona. The third busiest port in the USA is Mariposa, located 5 miles west of downtown Nogales, Arizona with its neighboring Mexican border town Nogales, Sonora. Nogales is 70 miles due south of Tucson, Arizona. Jones Studio has redesigned and expanded the entire 57 acre port. One can surround him or herself with a border of preconception and prejudgment, thereby limiting communication and personal growth. Nations, however, find the concept of borders a necessary control device relative to commerce, trade and labor pools. Make no mistake; crossing a border is big business! Up until 1963 the US/ Mexico border and the US/ Canada border were less about security and more about monitoring imports and exports. Then, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and for the first time in history, the borders were closed… because of the ultimate human motivator: fear. Nevertheless, a fundamental labor shortage in the southwest United States remained, and a surplus of labor in Mexico weakened the Mexican economy. To understand the directions of immigration one must understand the balance of push/ pull. The US encouraged Mexican labor to move north, matching Mexico’s inclination to push its surplus north. It is mathematically and socially predictable to expect any geopolitical balance to eventually run its course. As we have experienced in Arizona over the past 20 years, the imaginary cow line which once joined us with Mexico has morphed into the butcher’s line which separates us. Still the Mexican, Central and South American crops get harvested to supply the USA with 65 % of the produce we consume. It all arrives in trucks, having been processed and inspected at the Mariposa Land Port of Entry. This flow is big business.


Mariposa Land Port of Entry; Nogales, Arizona/ Nogales, Sonora


Christmas Eve, 1968 Astronaut Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Commander, snapped

Marilu Knode, then senior curator at the Scottsdale Museum of

“Earth Rise” … the picture that launched the environmental movement (FIG

Contemporary Art, wrote in 2009:

3). The image of the Earth as a “big blue marble” remains imprinted in my

Coming of age in 1960’s America influenced my intellectual filters to lean

“While many government buildings hide behind dense bureaucratic processes and an urban context to conduct their business, the Mariposa Port project is an exposed, lightening rod of building, sitting on one of the most contentious borders in the Americas, at the eye of the maelstrom of debates over liberty, migration and trade.”

left. I now consider it amusingly ironic to find myself lead architect in a

For 200 years the United States celebrated and symbolically embraced

project hell-bent on negotiating the politics of immigration, economic

diverse immigrants. “Melting pot” describes what I believe underlies

inequality, national security, law enforcement and “Welcome to America”

America’s perceived cultural preeminence. However, despite lip-service

at a time when national debate is escalating regarding the nature of our

to a multi-cultural society, an intimidating, metal fence meets our

borders and the future of immigration in the United States.

southern neighbors, appearing in valleys and disappearing over hills as

mind. Its appearance from space made clear to me the artifice of political borders - there are no countries, no politics and no borders.

far as the eye can see. (FIG. 17). Most lines of demarcation express Given the negative alliance of our state legislators, one could assume

abstracted conceptions of separation, like the lines of the butcher’s cow

Jones Studio would be subject to partisan political pressure inhibiting a

drawing. Often, the lines only exist as an ideal without a physical

sympathetic design approach. Fortunately, the development of American

reality. However, in the Southwest United States, a tangible fence

ports is under Federal, not State jurisdiction. Furthermore, and to America’s

clearly identifies the usually invisible separation between nations

credit, we have what’s called “The Design Excellence Program,” which

rather than serving as a line of connection as Rios’s poem suggests.

mandates that new federal buildings be of the highest representation of Despite architecture’s limited abilities to directly address the

democracy and dignity. We have to do a great job; it’s required.

inevitable changing patterns of global politics, security operations and commercial trucking, it is undeniable that architecture’s connections and influence must not be ignored. To address these border conditions, the design team aspired to replace anxiety, danger and extreme temperatures with expressions of respect and extensive modulated shade. We wished to embed ourselves in the unique opportunity to effect debate. The experience of the present Mariposa Port is one of inescapable heat, dirt, intimidation, danger and fumes – not only for the visitor, but also for the customs agents who experience this all day, every day. For the inbound traveler, both American and Mexican, there is the added anxiety of being on the defensive. A more sympathetic environment can mitigate these experiences. As a design team, rather


than perpetuate fear, we instead asked, “What if this gateway to America was a walk in the park? What if our gestural gift at the border could be a garden?”

4 38






A DESERT OASIS The Arizona border’s topography is a carved maze of hilly landforms and

The new, self-reliant and sustainable oasis will mark a centralized safe

arroyos. (FIG 9). The original Mariposa Port of Entry’s 45 acres is a

zone in the Mariposa Land Port of Entry that is fully landscaped and

balance of cut peaks and filled valleys. To physically expand the site to

scaled to a small town street. (FIG. 15). This oasis will be visible from the

57 acres for the expanded program, engineered fill was excavated from a

pedestrian processing lobby and will be the access and foreground view

nearby supply and compacted behind massive gabion retaining walls,

for all administration and port business offices. (FIG 16).

utilizing demolished concrete paving. (FIG. 7). The facility now under construction integrates new environmentally responsible structures

Additional forward-looking and sustainable strategies were incorporated

with the image of building on a plateau. It conceptualizes a garden with

into the Mariposa project. Power needs for the new expanded port could

distinct edges that would appear elevated on a plinth, like a landscape

place a negative demand on the already under-designed local utility

“in the sky.” (FIG. 14).

infrastructure. Therefore, we have included a 2,500 kilowatt photovoltaic array to offset electrical demands, (FIG. 13), and are on track to have the

Imagine extending your arm, hand out, wide palm up, towards an

first net zero and Platinum LEED port in the world.

approaching stranger. This is a universal signal, a positive gesture. It is as if you hold the word “welcome, bienvenida”. Your hand is the plinth,

Jones Studio was, from the beginning, well aware of our inability to

the implied word the garden, the oasis, the big blue marble. It is also

affect policy in Nogales, Sonora. However, we always believed we could

notable that when one is inside a Land Port, you are, legally speaking,

extend a metaphorical open hand. This gesture takes the form of an

nowhere. Not in one country or the other. You are suspended.

architecture that honors the dignity of all people while respecting the seriousness of law enforcement. In this way, we propose that Mariposa

Although the postcard depiction of the famous Sonoran Desert typically

could represent a dignified and benevolent aspect of the United States.

and accurately silhouettes the mighty saguaro cactus against a

(FIG. 1).

brilliantly colored sunset, our site also represents the reality of a parched, hostile landscape - still beautiful but a challenge to human survival. An obvious architectural solution would recall the romantic notion of Oasis, inherent to the experience of these conditions. (FIG. 12). Although we strived to create an Oasis in the desert, offering a welcoming respite from the extreme heat, a man-made oasis in an arid climate would be irresponsible unless it was self-reliant. Therefore, a major design determinant was rainwater harvesting (FIG. 13) and reclamation of building system condensate. We have found that most people assume there is not enough precipitation in the desert to be a


dependable irrigation source. However, those who experience the desert monsoon season will recognize the potential for storing huge quantities of water. Mariposa has a one million gallon underground water storage reservoir. The hundreds of newly planted trees will not require any potable water. All on-site trees will be watered from the 267,000 square feet of collected roof rainwater stored in the underground tank.





14 39


“Cultural renewal in America’s melting pot has reached a new place: perhaps the country is no longer able to absorb everyone who comes here. If that is the case, then it is likely our political policies need to understand that strong economies to our south are crucial to stemming the tide of migrants to the country. While NAFTA was primarily about a less restricted flow of money and goods across borders, allowing for easier return travel at sites such as the Mariposa Port of Entry recognizes the desire immigrants have in keeping connected to their homes. As a new administration grapples with incontrovertible issues of trade, migration and crime, new ways of thinking about our permeable border must be found. Political policies shape borders, but it is individuals who must negotiate them every day.”5

“Political policies shape borders, but it is individuals who must negotiate them every day.”





the author

Edward (Eddie) Jones, with his business partner and brother Neal, were raised in the oil fields of Oklahoma. From a very early age the two bothers aspired to be architects and share a studio. Eddie was born in 1949 Texas and moved to the Sonoron desert in 1973 after graduating from Oklahoma State University. He founded Jones Studio, Inc. on June 8, 1979, 3 months before his 30th birthday. It was not until years later, he realized he had begun his professional career on the birthday of his two major heroes… Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff. The firm designs an unusually broad list of building types - the list includes museums, research facilities, performing arts centers, golf club houses, an NFL training facility, town halls, softball-soccer stadiums, and an entire college campus. Additionally, Eddie has the privilege of lecturing frequently and sharing his love for discussing architecture around the United States and abroad.

Eddie Jones, AIA



1 Mariposa Land Port of Entry Rendering

1 Borman, Frank. “Earthrise.” December 24, 1968.

2 Aerial Photo of Site


3 Earthrise by Frank Borman, 24th December 1968 from Apollo 8

2 Knode, Marilu. “On Boundaries and Lines, Buildings and Politics:

4 Windsor Neighborhood Bar and Restaurant, host/ess stand

Reflections on the Reality of Project Development Process and Ideas in

5 Border Fence along Arizona-Mexico border. Photography by David

the work of Jones Studio, Inc.” March 18, 2009.


3 McNew, David. “Border Fence.”

6 Manzanita Hall, ASU Campus, before and after


7 Gabion walls of recycled, demolished concrete paving at Mariposa


Land Port of Entry

4 Adams, Ansel. “Walpi, Hopi Village.” 1941.

8 Walpi, Hopi Village; Ansel Adams, 1941


9 Hilly Landforms and Arroyos of Arizona

5 Knode, Marilu.

10-15 Mariposa Land Port of Entry Rendering 16 Roads 17 Imported goods from Mexico, Central and South America increased exponentially after the NAFTA treaty. 18 Site Diagram by Jones Studio Inc. Photos and renderings courtesy of Jones Studio Inc. unless noted otherwise


THE NEW OLD WEST Shannon scutari

“Welcome to Arizona, Petri dish of Manifest Destiny”


“As surely as the bloody scrim of Manifest Destiny swept across it, the West tells Americans about themselves. It is a place writ large with desire over many generations – for water, for silver and copper and gold, and for timber and oil; as the place where consumptives came to soothe their lungs, where environmentalists see sacred space, where multinational corporations beat back environmentalists to exploit the land. The story of the great American boom of the 2000s and its culmination in the Great Recession is told well as a western.” 1

- Ruben Martinez, Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West

Welcome to Arizona, Petri dish of Manifest Destiny, where the West has been won and lost many times over as a byproduct of its well-endowed tradition of boom-and-bust cycles - detectable in its western storyline since the 1920’s. The Great Depression, World War II, the 1960s recession, the 1970s oil embargo, the early 80s recession, the Savings & Loan crisis, the tech bubble, the housing bubble, and the Great Recession. Fortunately for the roughly six million people that currently serve as the protagonists and the antagonists of Arizona’s story (and the estimated four to five million people that will add richness to the narrative over the next several decades) hundreds of committed people throughout the state are not waiting around for the next boom and bust cycle to breeze in. They are rewriting the Arizona Manifesto.


addiction At the core of this “rewrite” is the way Arizona creates her communities

In Arizona, it is too painful to stay the same. A quick glimpse of a few

and designs the structures that incubate and shelter the souls of her

of the many reasons this rings true for millions of Arizonans:

future. In Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West, Ruben Martinez utilizes personal experiences of addiction to expose one of the many tragedies at the heart of a tradition of boom and bust, “the subjective experience of alienation from places and relationships and representations shaped by power – that is, by the way power violently and unevenly distributes wealth, determining who lives in the trailer and who lives in the adobe chalet and assigning not just the corresponding real estate value but the value of human lives across the social geography.” 2

- More than 250,000 foreclosure starts since 2007 3 - Nearly 17,000 pending foreclosures in the Phoenix Metro area – more than 3 times the normal range of 4,000-6,000 foreclosures 4 - Only half of Arizona’s most populated communities are affordable for households earning the median income of$52,796.

Families earning less than

$50,000 spend 2/3 of their income on transportation and housing costs 5

Addiction works as a tangible metaphor, depicting the violently

From Tucson to Yuma, Mesa to Eloy, Flagstaff to Tempe, Casa Grande to

thrashing economic cycles that hits the tenderest of nerves – as only the

Phoenix, the Gila River Indian Community to Surprise, Sonoita to Heber,

raw truth can do. In every personal, economic, political and social “boom

Avondale to Marana, the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community to

and bust,” the addiction to the object(s) of obsession feeds the tailspin

Chandler, Patagonia to Bisbee and numerous other communities

of self-absorption, greed, abuse of power and narcissism. In every case,

throughout Arizona – community members, local business leaders, and

the organism and its institutions, mores and cultures are out of balance.

non-profit partners are striving for balance and healing from an

Transformation through balance unlocks the path to healing.

economy that mainlined the American Dream neatly packaged in the “drive til’ you qualify” exurbs.

Transformation at its fundamental core is change, a metamorphosis that one hopes evolves the organism to a higher place. Whether outside

As Thomas Friedman recently celebrated in his New York Times column,

forces create opportunities for transformational changes or internal

“thank God, there’s still a bunch of people across America – innovators

pressure gauges become overloaded to the breaking point, the pain

and entrepreneurs – who just didn’t get the word. They didn’t get the

associated with the change process is excruciating and sometimes

word that Germany will eat our breakfast or that China will eat our

debilitating. People rarely change until it is too painful to stay the same.

lunch. They didn’t get the word that we’re in a recession and heading for a fiscal cliff. . . Instead, they just go out and invent stuff and fix stuff and collaborate on stuff. They are our saving grace, and whenever I need

“In Arizona, it is too painful to stay the same”

a pick-me-up, I drop in on one of them.” 6 Time to “drop in” on an Arizona collaboration that is writing Act I of the new Arizona western: Curing the Growth Addiction – Moving Beyond Boom and Bust.

“Whether outside forces create opportunities for transformational changes or internal pressure gauges become overloaded to the breaking point, the pain associated with the change process is excruciating and sometimes debilitating.”


the sustainable communities collaborative The Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC), a unique public,

organizational silos, connecting people to interesting places through

private, non-profit partnership powered by a $20 million privately

multiple transportation options, cultivating creativity and local talent,

financed Sustainable Communities Fund (SCF) is combining financing

celebrating a multitude of cultures, balancing development patterns and

mechanisms with the visionary leadership of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa

inviting new voices into the decision-making. One line at a time the SCC

to focus new growth and development into urban areas connected to rail

is recreating Arizona’s story and inching closer to reducing “the

and bus transit. In sharp contrast to “drive til’ you qualify” development patterns, transit oriented development reduces the need for vehicle ownership and translates into $5000-$7000 in annual household savings for every vehicle that is not part of the family experience. 7 SCC’s additional tangible benefits sprouting across the Valley include: a mix of urban infill housing starts (affordable, workforce and market

subjective experience of alienation from places and relationships and representations shaped by power.” 8 A recent story in The Arizona Republic about an affordable senior housing development (utilizing SCF funding) in downtown Mesa brings to life the change taking shape before our eyes.

rate), new community health care centers, budding plans for regional bike sharing, a focus on fresh and healthy food and health impact assessments in urban planning and development, commitment to land

2 use and transportation connectivity by cities and the Valley’s regional

The story reads: “It has been almost a quarter-century since downtown Mesa saw a large, privately financed construction project. That's two wars


in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. Four presidents. At least three recessions.

transit agency, and a strong grassroots effort to solicit investment into

The dot-com boom. The housing bubble. The fall of the Berlin Wall, and

major urban centers.

then of the Soviet Union. It's been that long since private money paid for construction in the heart of a city that added, by official census numbers,

SCC’s dozens of partners are embracing diversity, breaking down

more than 150,000 people over that span of time.” 9

Since July, 2011 the Sustainable Communities Fund (SCF) has provided: • $6 million of loan funds for over 600 affordable, workforce and market rate housing units connected to the light rail corridor. This loan capital is leveraging over $70 million in additional financing; and • $3 million of loan funds for community health centers connected to the light rail corridor.


scc projects Encore on First Avenue, Mesa This 81-unit, transit-oriented, urban-style senior housing development for low and moderate income working seniors will be only a few blocks from the downtown Mesa METRO Light Rail station. The project will feature sustainable features including solar panels that will supply much of the buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s electricity and rainwater harvesting to augment the irrigation system. Developer & Partners: Mesa Housing Associates, LLC.(owner), Urban Development Partners & PacifiCap Properties Group, LLC (developers), East Valley Adult Resources (non-profit






Collaborative, LISC, and the Arizona Department of Housing.

Architecture by: SERA Architects, Portland, OR


Rendering by: SERA Architects, Portland, OR

devine legacy on central, phoenix Offering a variety of housing options, Devine Legacy was one of the first


affordable/mixed-income housing communities along the METRO Light Rail line. Rents on all the units will be 10 to 45 percent below market rate. A majority of the units are rented to individuals or families earning between 40 and 60 percent of Maricopa Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s adjusted family median income, or $38,520. Six units rent at market rate. . The project achieved LEED Platinum, the first multi-family housing complex in the Phoenix region to receive this designation. All of the units have natural cross-ventilation with windows facing the court and the surrounding streets and alleys. In addition, the units have vertical stack ventilation to reduce dependence on air-conditioning, not only a sustainable measure but also a significant savings for low-income residents. The building is wired for eventual use of solar panels to be located on the roof. Developer & Partners: Native American Connections, Arizona Department of Housing, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, LISC, and the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, to name a few. Awards: RED Award for Best Multi-Family Housing Project, AZRE Magazine & 2012 Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award Winner (Metro/Ubran Housing) Architecture by: Pyatok Architects, Inc. with Pearlman Design Group

6 45

Adelante Healthcare – Mesa Comprehensive Health Center The 43,000 square foot, primary health care center integrates internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, dental, lab, pharmacy, WIC nutrition, and a healthy café into a single location in order to deliver convenient, accessible, and affordable services under one roof. The LEED Gold certified design, submitted for Platinum LEED Interiors (will be the first health center in the nation to achieve this certification), maximizes the use of natural daylight to reduce energy costs and increase patients’ connections to nature. A jack-and-jill room configuration enhances patient contact, expedites patient wait times, and increases whole-family participation. Additionally, the project allows easy access for all and is connected to the Main and Sycamore METRO Light Rail station. Developer & Partners: Developer Adelante Healthcare is partnering with the East Valley Institute of Technology, Raza Development Fund, the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Mesa Museum for Youth, One World Corporation (developer), Mesa Medical LLC, Kristine Kollasch (artist), Desert Botanical Gardens, LGE Builders, AT Still University, Virginia Piper Foundation and Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design. Architecture by: Jain Malkin Design, Cawley Architects


Encore on Farmer, Tempe Within only a few blocks of the METRO Light Rail, Encore on Farmer provides convenient pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to numerous amenities


including art centers, museums, the Mill Avenue shopping district, Jaycee Park, Tempe Beach Park, Town Lake and ASU. The 56-unit, transit-oriented, urban style, senior housing development for low and moderate income working seniors also integrates sustainable design elements such as solar panels that supply much of the building’s electricity and rainwater harvesting that augments the landscape irrigation. Developers & Partners:


6th & Farmer, LLC (owner), Urban Development Partners & PacifiCap Properties Group, LLC (developers), Arizona Department of Housing, City of Tempe.


Architecture by:

Shears, Adkins + Rockmore, Denver, CO

Photography by:

John Burcham Photography

closing thoughts Arizona celebrates its centennial birthday this year. At the ripe old age

Finally, as the window of life begins to close, the limitless

of 100, is there still hope for the transformation of Arizona’s story?

possibilities of youth, refined in mid-life, make way for the precious

A few things that cross your mind when you turn 100 years old and

few seeds of opportunity that will create and nourish the future.

reflect on the chapters of your life: In youth, when life is full of future

Whether these seeds are carelessly scattered or meticulously planted

possibilities, you’re flooded with waves of hope, excitement and

determines the future of the “New Old West.” The hundreds of

potentiality. In mid-life, after decades of sandblasted polish and

visionaries, architects and implementers of Arizona’s next 100 years are

seasoning, you either refine these possibilities and pursue them with

keenly aware that if transformation is possible in Arizona – it is

renewed vigor or eliminate them to make way for life’s necessities.

possible anywhere.

the author As a Gubernatorial policy advisor, lobbyist, attorney, transportation professional, social worker, MBA grad, coalition builder, smart growth advocate, public service administrator, and entrepreneur, Shannon Scutari has served as a change agent in Arizona for over twenty years. Currently, she is leading the “Sustainable Communities Collaborative,” a unique endeavor with a $20 million fund that harnesses the collective power of public, private and non-profit organizations to build equitable transit-oriented-development along the 20-mile light rail corridor connecting Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. Ms. Scutari earned her joint J.D./MBA and Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University. She is a member of the State Bar of Arizona. After a twenty-year career in the public and non-profit sectors, Ms. Scutari recently joined the entrepreneurial world, launching her own consulting firm, Scutari & Co., LLC.

Shannon Scutari references 1 Martinez, Ruben.

Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old

6 Friedman, Thomas L., “I Made the Robot.” The New York Times 26 Aug.

West. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012. p.6

2012: SR 11.

2 Martinez, Ruben. Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West.


New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012. p. 326

Affordability Index, 2009


8 Martinez, Ruben. Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West.

Arizona Housing Alliance, Arizona Housing Report, August, 2012

Center for Neighborhood Technology, Housing + Transportation

4 Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service’s STAT report for the

New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012. p. 326

Phoenix Metro Area, 2007-2012

9 Nelson, Gary., “Work to Begin in Downtown Mesa on Senior Apartment


Complex.” Arizona Republic, 8 Aug. 2012: B 1.

Center for Neighborhood Technology, Housing + Transportation

Affordability Index: Pinal County, Maricopa County, Yuma County, 2009



Ajo is the closest community to Organ Pipe National Monument and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge - some of the most remote and beautiful landscapes in the desert southwest.



project overview In January of 2012, a request for proposals was issued by The International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA) and funded through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town program to improve livability in the town of Ajo, Arizona through creative place-making strategies. The International Sonoran Desert Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the environment, culture, and economy of Sonoran Desert communities. ISDA is based in Ajo, and since 2002, has been working to revitalize the community by re-purposing historic spaces in the town center. ISDA, along with their project partners, Pima County and the Conway School of Landscape Design, selected the team of Chris Winters + ARC Studios Landscape Architecture, Rob Paulus Architects, LL consulting, Herb Greene and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, which initiated a process that will culminate with the submittal of a master plan for Creative Place-making and Adaptive Re-use for the Historic Ajo Townsite. Ajo Arizona occurs in an isolated location in the Sonoran Desert on highway 85 roughly equidistant from Tucson and Phoenix and 43 miles from the Mexican border town of Lukeville/Sonoita. It is the closest community to Organ Pipe National Monument and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge - some of the most remote and beautiful landscapes in the desert southwest. The project site is approximately 13 acres, encompassing the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s core public spaces extending from the Historic Ajo Plaza to the Curley School Campus. The focus of the project is the improvement of the interface between buildings and the spaces that connect them within the downtown area of the Historic Ajo Townsite. These public spaces create nodes of activity connected by streets and sidewalks across institutional, commercial and residential properties.


HISTORY OF AJO the town’s architecture and landscape design were largely based upon the principles of the City Beautiful movement…which promoted beauty not only for its own sake, but also to create moral and civic virtue among urban populations. The town of Ajo is a master planned community built to accommodate

Though the town’s housing developments were clearly segregated, the

mining activity for the New Cornelia Copper Mine, later Phelps Dodge.

Plaza was available to everyone with no restrictions and served as the

Originally designed by the Minnesota architectural firm of Kenyon and

“front lawn” of the community. Native landscape was used throughout

Maine in 1914, the town’s architecture and landscape design were largely

the town due to the high cost of water but in the plaza a lush landscape

based upon the principles of the City Beautiful movement…which

was cultivated and an oasis created in which all of the community

promoted beauty not only for its own sake, but also to create moral and

gathered freely. This spirit is still evident today and the plaza has

civic virtue among urban populations.1 The particular architectural style

become an iconic and memorable space for residents of the town,

of the movement borrowed mainly from the contemporary Beaux-Arts

serving as the place they gather for important civic and cultural events.

and neoclassical architectures, which emphasized the necessity of order, dignity, and harmony. The Historic Townsite is a radial plan with a central axis connecting the important institutions of civic life with the Historic Plaza serving as the core public space.

As Ajo has evolved through the years the lines of segregation have blurred and following the closure of the mines in 1984 the population has dwindled to approximately 3,500 residents. Much has changed since the town’s initial plan and development but what remains is a diverse

The Townsite of Ajo was the vision of John C. Greenway who wanted to

and creative community living and working in exemplary Spanish

found a model mining community. He was provided a unique opportunity

Colonial Revival Architecture with an intact but under-utilized core.

in Ajo as the mine, support facilities and townsite could be designed and developed at one time. He dreamed of a town where people could live with decency and dignity and invested heavily in the development of the core public spaces. While Mr. Greenway had an egalitarian vision, the reality of segregation divided the community and the built environment in early Ajo. The Anglo town site occurred along the main axis connecting ‘A’ Mountain to the train depot. This axis provided the core for the central plaza, main commercial district and proposed churches and schools. Houses for Anglo workers flanked the improvements along this axis. Roads led from this central district to the segregated Native American and Mexican town sites which occurred in less favorable locations near or adjacent to the open pit mines.



3 50

PROJECT APPROACH The design team recognizes the beauty of environments aggregated by time, history and culture and values the memory embodied in the patina of place that results from the layering of ideas upon one another. The goal of this project is to improve upon existing quality of life, encourage creative activity, and generate community identity and sense of place based on current conditions and contemporary culture. To this end, the design team is developing a master plan that will provide a template for the on-going creation of simple, elegant and malleable spaces that become canvasses for the cultural and artistic expressions


of the community over time. Historic preservation is a critical aspect of this project. The design team recognizes the beauty of environments aggregated by time, history and culture and values the memory embodied in the patina of place that results from the layering of ideas upon one another. Our approach to the maintenance of historic integrity while designing for the future lies in the realization that honoring the past is best accomplished through the evocation of memory and building upon evolving culture rather than blind preservation or repetition of form or style. ISDA wisely encouraged public outreach and participation as the primary catalyst for the generation of information and data necessary to identify and solve problems in the historic townsite. Lani Lott of LL Consulting, in collaboration with the design team and ISDA, developed a survey and coordinated dissemination online, in print and through

Several residents placed lemons at the backside of the north and south plaza buildings visible from highway 85 upon arrival to the historic town site. These spaces were identified as eyesores that conveyed a negative initial image of what is a beautiful town center. Lemons were placed at the poorly defined intersection of Highway 85 and the 3 arterial roads that radiate west from the plaza into residential areas. Large expanses of asphalt with confusing pedestrian linkages contributed to a hostile and potentially dangerous space. Lemons and tangerines were placed in the Historic Plaza Park. It was identified as a place of memory and meaning that was being neglected by and under-utilized by the previous owners. This process was annotated and recorded photographically for later reference.

direct contact in the community. Data gathered during the survey process was shared with the community during the first of several public meetings. Sessions were conducted with the general public and specific stakeholders and user groups during which the project was introduced and the results of the survey shared. This initiated a dialogue that will continue through completion of the project. The design team developed simple didactic tools to elicit meaningful feedback from participants including the use of large scale, high resolution aerial photos of the townsite provided for orientation and discussion in a hands-on process that fostered discovery and discourse. Participants were encouraged to identify places and spaces within the town site that they cherished or found problematic by placing either a tangerine or a lemon on that space on the aerial photo then sharing their thoughts or feelings.

5 51

Some of the most illuminating and thought provoking ideas emerged

Following these public intake sessions, the design team compiled and

during interactions between colleagues, friends and neighbors at these

formatted information and developed graphics that were shared with the

sessions. While many residents supported extensive street tree

community during a series of community meetings. Physical models

plantings for shade and landscape to buffer pedestrians from traffic

were created for these charrettes to represent proposed massings,

others worried that this would obscure important views to key

landscapes and key site improvements. Participants were invited to draw

architectural elements. Mr. G. Louie Walters, President of the Ajo

and mark on the model and plans and share their reactions and provide

Historical Society and a local educator, passionately described Ajo as a

feedback to preliminary concepts.

“jewel” and implored the design team to avoid ”screwing with the jewel”. The design team is responding by adopting the attitude that our

Preliminary outcomes

proposed interventions “celebrate the jewel” in a manner that respects the past while addressing the future.

Another resident, Mr. Rick

Shumway, offered the impression that the design team, while well intended, were suggesting interventions and improvements that could be likened to “shiny toys” that the town could ill afford given the

The design team has produced preliminary conceptual design plans and begun renderings of before and after images for key locations throughout the project site.

depressed economic state. He challenged the design team to explore concepts for improvement that were at once meaningful to residents and commensurate with the fiscal and demographic realities of a town that, by his assessment, was in an ongoing state of economic and popular decline. The cultural and artistic communities of Ajo are critical drivers of the economy. While there was great public support of the arts many were opposed to the intrusion of art on architecture through murals or mosaics and felt that public art should represent the culture and history of the town in a way that respected historic structures. This project challenged the design team to address cultural and social issues identified by ISDA as dividing lines. ISDA is a tri-nation organization directed by representatives from the nations of the Tohono O’odham, Mexico and the United States. The population of Ajo directly reflects this cultural richness. Diversity breeds dynamic environments but diversity was not always celebrated in the past. During public meetings members of the community shared their personal memories of a town that was divided along racial and economic lines and we discussed how this might inform the planning and development of a better community for present and future generations. The closure of mines and the resultant economic depression was identified as another dividing line within the community. Many in the community were directly affected by the closure of the mines which ended, for some, generations of tradition, sustenance and identity. Others welcomed the closure of the mines due to their history of poor

Designers often intuit solutions to complex problems based upon past experience and familiarity with the natural and built environments in which we work. Our team made early design assumptions and during the on-going public participation process key concepts emerged, some of which confirmed our intuition and others that challenged or changed pre-conceptions. The idea that the historic town site could be transformed most effectively and economically through extensive streetscape and landscape improvements resonated with the public. Our position that a reductive, rather than additive approach to the rehabilitation of spaces and structures adversely affected by the accretion of poor improvements over time was embraced. Our impulse to restrict vehicular traffic on the road between the churches, effectively creating a pedestrian zone, was controversial and elicited lively debate. The public process has been dynamic and informative and is allowing the community to actively participate in planning their future and obligates them to take ownership of the resultant places we create together. The design team has produced preliminary conceptual design plans and begun renderings of before and after images for key locations throughout the project site. Key concepts and guiding principles developed to date are outlined on the preliminary schematic master plan shown on the following pages.

environmental stewardship and the perception that strip mines are not commensurate with a sustainable future.

During public meetings members of the community shared their personal memories of a town that was divided along racial and economic lines and we discussed how this might inform the planning and development of a better community for present and future generations. 52

key concepts and guiding principles

1. Celebration of the Sonoran Desert and a recognition of

4. Engagement of the local arts community to assist in

the inherent value of existing natural and cultural assets of the

the development of the town site through the process of Armature as


conceived by Herb Greene. The concept of Armature proposes an on-going collaboration between architects, artists, developers,

2. Demonstration of a model for sustainable desert communities






facilitators, crafts-persons and people of all ages in a process which allows citizens to take part in building and ornamenting their cities and neighborhoods.2

infrastructure constructed features that use living, natural systems to provide environmental services such as capturing, cleaning and infiltrating stormwater; creating wildlife habitat; shading and cooling streets and buildings; and calming traffic- and the encouragement of smart site development practices such as the reduction of pavement, passive water harvesting, the use of recycled content and locally available materials for site improvements and

5. Encouragement of economic development and downtown revitalization

through the improvement of

existing commercial space, creation of dynamic public space and the continued evolution of a unique retreat center and arts community, all connected with beautiful streetscapes.

the preservation of bio-diversity through the use of endemic

6. Creation of meaningful spaces that encourage


3. Innovative adaptive re-use of existing historic buildings


and evoke the positive memories of a diverse

cultural community by healing wounds and erasing dividing lines.

and spaces.




7B 53


I. C. E. H.




F. A. J.


North Plaza Building Depot South Plaza Building Plaza Park Ajo Immaculate Conception Church

F. Ajo Federated Church G. Curley School H. Curley Retreat Center I. Triangle Park J. South Lot


conclusion - Lessons learned At publication we are mid-stream in the process. Preliminary Design Concepts will be delivered to the community of Ajo for public review and comment at the end of August and final project design documents and a complete report, in fulfillment of NEA Grant requirements, will be submitted at the end of September. This process has demonstrated the importance of meaningful, open dialogue in the community during programming and design. It also supports the premise that the best work comes from a truly collaborative process in which the public and their advocates contribute to the design and development of their community but refrain from controlling the process in a manner that prevents professionals from performing their jobs effectively and creatively. The shared expectation of the community and the design team is that our work together will result in a collective, defensible vision for the future of the Historic Ajo Townsite manifest in a master plan that is creative, clear, comprehensive and didactic.


the authors

Rob Paulus founded Tucson-based Rob Paulus Architects in 1995 and has been practicing architecture for over two decades creating unique, regionÂŹally-specific architecture. Over the course of his career Rob has received over 48 regional and national awards for a wide variety of project types and has been published extensively in architectural journals including Architect, Architectural Record, OF Arch and Design Diffusion News. He is a director and incoming president with the Southern Arizona American Institute of Architects and is a frequent lecturer and guest critic throughout Arizona.

Rob Paulus AIA, LEED AP

Chirsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; introduction to landscape architecture was with the San Francisco landscape architecture firm of Befu Morris Scardina where he worked on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C. in Association with the office of Lawrence Halprin. Following completion of the memorial project he traveled to Kuwait where he worked on a wide range of projects with the Kuwaiti government, United Nations and private sector. Chris returned to Arizona in 1997 and merged with Arc Studio in 2006. Chris lectures frequently and is adjunct faculty at Taliesen West, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. He collaborates with award winning architects, artists and other creative professionals on adaptive re-use developments, public art installations, major public works, residential gardens and international design competitions.

Chris Winters, RLA



1 Site Area Diagram

1 Daniel M. Bluestone, Columbia University, (September 1988).

2 Axis Diagram over Site

Detroit's City Beautiful and the Problem of Commerce. Journal of the

3 Sackrace in Historic Ajo

Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. XLVII, No. 3, pp. 245-62.

4 Community Meeting with Rob Paulus Architects

2 Herb Greene, Building to Last, Architecture as Ongoing Art.

5 Initial Planning Meeting with Rob Paulus Architects

Architectural Book Publishing Company 1981.

6A, B Ajo Gateway, before and after 7A, B Bandstand, before and after 8 Ajo Master Plan by Rob Paulus Architects Photos, diagrams and renderings courtesy of Rob Paulus Architects unless noted otherwise



Individualocracy – How Individuals Control the Urban Environment They Live In.

introduction The following essay includes excerpts of research regarding how urban sprawl develops and why it is so pervasive. By studying how people within Metropolitan Phoenix make decisions about where to live, dine, shop, and be entertained, and combining this information with how content they are about their home, neighborhood, and city, we hoped to make assertions regarding how individuals directly affect the politics, economics, development, and aesthetics of a city. Interestingly, we also uncovered how intra-city geographic locations indicate levels of an individual’s connection to cultural and social communities of a city. In particular, people living within the large “middle” band of a sprawling city appear far less connected to urban social fabrics than those at the core or outskirts. The following concentrates on this particular finding of our study. The full research report will be available through the author’s website in fall 2012, and in 2013 as part of a book published by the University of Georgia Press.

“We uncovered how intra-city geographic locations indicate levels of an individual’s connection to cultural and social communities of a city.” 56

1 research basics This project is part of an ongoing collaboration between colab studio, members of the ASU School of Art Pyracantha Press, with research assistance from 13 students hired through a prize granted by the ASU Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory. The research boundary included all of Metropolitan Phoenix comprising interviews with people across all social, economic, and racial varieties from Buckeye, Wittmann, Anthem, Apache Junction, Gilbert, Laveen, and everywhere in between. Participants were asked the same sixteen questions. To allow for comparison of the data, we differentiated the city into three basic zones: Zone 1 (Z1): Downtown cores of Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Tempe, and areas between these cores. We considered these areas to be centrally located and containing significantly higher densities of housing, entertainment venues, commercial centers, cultural venues, and professional sport facilities. Zone 2 (Z2): Outside of zone 1 and within the 101 and 202 loop freeways. We considered these areas outside the urban core but not at the outer edge. Zone 3 (Z3): Suburban areas of Metropolitan Phoenix outside of Zone 1 and Zone 2 including â&#x20AC;&#x153;bedroom communityâ&#x20AC;? developments such as Anthem, Wittmann, Queen Creek, and Laveen. Research numerical data is cited via percentages of participants organized by the three zones (example: Z1=50% indicates 50% of the participants in zone 1 provided a particular answer.) Research interview quotes are cited by interview designation number and question number (example: 58.16 indicates interview participant #58, response to question #16). The Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area is abbreviated as PHX.


location not critical When we asked people about their decision of where they chose to live in the city, we received great diversity of responses, but a relatively low percentage of those living in Z2 provided answers regarding location. In opposition, those living in downtown cores were far more likely to provide location as important to where they live. Quotes from the data show Z1 residents are interested in being close to cultural and social venues. As one Z1 participant stated, “Just the amenities, the culture. There’s First Fridays, the bars and restaurants and all that stuff. Also the homes are all different, so I liked that” (39.3). Another Z1 participant echoed these remarks saying they chose to live downtown “because it’s more diverse. It’s where the action is. Because of the art, and a lot of the entrepreneurs, a lot of the creative class have come to downtown Phoenix” [sic] (79.15). For different reasons, those living in Z3 also indicated location was important to them. Many cited appreciation for the desert environment as a draw. A resident in New River told us he moved there because he is


“out in the desert. It’s nice. I get a lot of exercise because I’m out in the desert and have a chance to run and mountain bike” (44.10). A person living in the north-east corner of Mesa moved there “because I’m still up north, so it’s far enough out to where I still get stars at night…I’m close to the lake. I have a boat, so we go to the lake all the time.” (58.3). Contrasting those responses, when asked what aspects led to participants’ decisions on where to buy or rent their home, we found people in Z2 were half as likely to answer “location” as a determining factor compared to people close to downtown areas (Z1=71%, Z2=35%, Z3=62%). To Z2 people, it wasn’t as important where they lived, or what was around them, but rather just that their home fit perceived necessities of house size and neighborhood quality. Interestingly, people in Z2 were most likely to be content about where they are living at a whopping 91% (Z1=79%, Z2=91%, Z3=76%), but also most likely to move away (Z1=50%, Z2=73%, Z3=19%). This suggests Z2 residents might be less connected socially to their location- which is


supported by the data we collected on how often they converse with their neighbors. When asked how often they speak to people within a 5-minute walking distance of their home, the highest percentage of people saying “never” were in this middle zone (Z1=19%, Z2=26%, Z3=14%).


“Z2 residents might be less connected socially to their location”

Chain comfort Z2 residents showed a heavy trend toward national chain stores and restaurants over locally owned businesses. When we asked participants to tell us where they shopped for food, clothes and necessities, the highest percentage of national chains occurred in Z2 at 97% (Z1=88%, Z2=97%, Z3=76%). Conversely, the lowest amount of non-chain responses occurred in zone 2 participants as well (Z1=23%, Z2=17%, Z3=24%). Similarly, Z2 participants are 50% more likely to dine at a chain restaurant than people living near downtown areas (Z1=38%, Z2=60%, Z3=81%). Though the research did not quantify the percentages comparing chain versus locally owned business availability by zone, it is clear there is a higher density of locally-owned options near downtown cores, which decreases towards the outskirts. However, for nearly all of those we interviewed in Z2, there appeared to be a decent amount of locally owned options within a 15 minute drive. This suggests there may be a comfort


level for Z2 people with the familiarity of chains. Echoing this observation, a recent study, “Residential Mobility Breeds Familiarity Seeking,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests “residential mobility breeds familiarity-seeking” in people. The journal study shows more “mobile” portions of American populations prefer to live in cities and areas containing national chains they are acquainted with. The authors believe this is derived out of a desire to balance the unfamiliarity of their new town with familiar stores and restaurants that were present where they moved from. Our interviews seemed to support this notion. One respondent stated, “The reason I was okay with leaving there was because the area where I’m at now has developed a lot more. I mean they put in a Target within the last 4 years.” (37.3). And in one extreme case, a person demonstrated a vitriolic attitude towards locally-owned businesses, stating, “you cannot just wander into a mom and pop and think it’s going to be awesome, because you might get horrible, horrible food poisoning” (52.15).


Cultural disinterest Z2 residents also appear far less likely to visit local cultural organizations, such as museums, performance venues, libraries, and community events. They are even less likely to visit such venues than those living in Z3 (Z1=27%, Z2=14%, Z3=24%), which surprisingly shows that Z3 residents are willing to travel to PHX cultural institutions almost an hour away.

“more ‘mobile’ portions of American populations prefer to live in cities and areas containing national chains they are acquainted with.”

Conversely, when asked what cultural venues they visit, people in Z2 stated they opt to visit and spend money at movie theaters or nationally owned shopping malls. Because such businesses tend not to mention, discuss, or cater to local culture, Z2 residents may have less awareness and/or engagement with unique local social or natural amenities.


conclusive goals

While there is undoubtedly a huge diversity of people within each zone, there is a clear trend showing people living in Z2 have a greater degree of disconnection with what makes PHX unique and provide less support to local economies and culture. People from the middle zone tend to support ubiquitous national chains, which breeds big box stores, strip malls, and other businesses that do not contribute to the local character of the unique desert environment of Phoenix. Small individual decisions about where to shop, dine, and recreate thus have a great deal of control over the political, economic, and aesthetic landscape of this city - of every city. For those wanting an environment filled with character, local economic vitality, visual and cultural interest, and sustainability, it is necessary to shop, dine, socialize, and make decisions that support these positive qualities. To truly affect any sprawling city as a whole, the people who live disconnected from a city while residing right in the middle of it will need to be integrated. To find out how best to reach out to these populations, much more research is needed. We hope this study inspires others to solve this truly global issue.



the authors

Matthew Salenger was born in 1971 and raised on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Collegiate studies in history, art, and architecture took him to vastly different environments such as Washington State University, Arizona State University- where he graduated with several honors, and eventually to The Architectural Association in London- where he also graduated with honors. He has a Master’s Degree in Architecture and a minor in Fine Art. Matthew co-founded colab studio, llc in 1999, which has won over 25 major design awards for residential and commercial architecture, as well as public art. Matthew is currently a faculty associate at ASU, teaching a graduate architecture design studio, and also teaches a sustainability philosophy class for an educational group called “Ikoloji” (pronounced “ecology”). He has been a part of several exhibitions and installations, and has presented the work of colab at many prestigious universities and organizations nationally. Matthew has served on the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Advisory Committee and Acquisition Board. He is also a percussionist and a surfer.

Matthew Salenger, RA

Maria, born in 1971 and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, obtained an MFA at the Slade School of Fine Art,

Maria Salenger, AIA

University College London and Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona. She has been a member of the American Institute of Architects since 1999, and curated the Arizona AIA Gallery (2000-2003). To date she has managed several projects ranging in size up to $140 million and 300,000 SF.

images 1 Zone Diagram 2 Location Graph 3 Location Graph 2 4 Chain Graph 5 Culture Graph 6 Research Graphic *All graphs courtesy of Colab Studios



Searching for inflection points in history can offer interesting insight as to why some cities have thrived while others have declined.



How does a city like Park City, Utah – a former silver and lead mining community that had fallen to knees in the 1960s - rebuild itself into a vibrant community by 2000, and by 2010 one of the great American success stories? In comparison, why did Leadville, a community in Colorado with a strikingly similar extraction economy story, become a hollow version of what it might have been? What combination of events, people, and ideas account for Pittsburgh - as battered a city as there ever was - making the shift from an unhealthy reliance on heavy industry to a more sustainably complex economy based on technology, medicine, and financial services? Why haven’t Cleveland and Buffalo seen the economic renaissance that Pittsburgh has experienced? Searching for inflection points in history can offer interesting insight as to why some cities have thrived while others have declined.

“Many ‘stuck’ communities demonstrate a striking reluctance to change gears, 62

four specific areas of inquiry

At CBZ we focus on economic strategy development for communities and implementation of revitalization plans. We typically analyze four specific areas of inquiry that highly correlate with revitalization success or failure: •

First, we seek to understand the market, not just in economic terms, but also as a community of individuals.

We seek to appreciate what attracted them to their community and create a story around how they behaved in the past, or may act into the future. Often income, education and experience are significant contributing factors to a community’s ability to adapt. Highly insular communities generally fail when adaptation is required. A population that has traveled and experienced various cultural norms is one of the best predictors of adaptive capacity. To understand Park City’s recovery, proximity to Salt Lake is a crucial part of the story. Likewise, for Leadville, its comparative isolation is critical. •

Second, we analyze the community’s capacity to act.

We measure both a market’s ability to pay and its

willingness to pay. We’re interested in understanding the combination of factors that lead a community to stay and reinvest, stay and complain, stay and withdraw, hold steady, or move. Interestingly, ability to pay is often not the limiting factor one might expect. Rather, a sense of confidence in decision-making ability combined with confidence in the aggregate direction a community points are paramount. Most soft markets we’ve consulted for suffer less from resource scarcity than from pervasive negativity that, in turn, metastasizes into anger at (usually) external forces like government authority or different races and classes of people. In Buffalo, the overwhelming majority of the population can afford far more in housing payments than they spend, but disposable income goes into cars and other highly depreciable “assets” at far greater rates than in Rochester, where, paradoxically, housing is proportionally more expensive. This is an important tell, often signaling a low level of adaptive capacity. •


we evaluate the physical condition. How much attention has the community given to on-going

maintenance of buildings and infrastructure? What is the history of capital reinvestment? What are the dig-out costs, and, more importantly, do changes in conditions suggest that the hole the community is in has stopped getting deeper? These are the outputs that result from a community’s capacity to reinvest in itself, and that relates to their inclination to be self-reflective.

Many “stuck” communities (Phoenix, Atlanta, Buffalo) demonstrate a striking reluctance to change

gears, whereas the willingness to experiment by others (Portland, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Santa Fe, Denver) is remarkable. We look for changes in the physical condition of a place to tell us about capacity.

Fourth, what is the resulting message, both to current inhabitants, and to the rest of the world?

Is it a

message of self-confidence or retrenchment? To what degree does the history of repeated reinvestments on one hand, or retrenchments on the other, communicate that it makes sense to act similarly? Is a city willing to make hard choices? Often the answer is no. But, in a few instances cities have demonstrated a resilience and desire to reflect. Such cities start by objectively imagining how they appear to the rest of the world. Image matters. It both defines and is defined by the market. Often we see in failed communities a bunker mentality: an inward drift that disengages from the market, a result of which is a normative isolation that cements counterproductive disinvestment behaviors.

whereas the willingness to experiment by others like Denver is remarkable” 63

the contrasting stories of Park City and Leadville One compelling comparative example of divergence is the contrasting stories of Park City and Leadville. Both were forced to confront environmental degradation caused by mining practices. But while Leadville fought EPA authority and delayed cleanup, Park City got down to the business of remediation. Both cities paved their streets with silver ore wealth, and the fortunes of both were tied to prices. Yet when the bottom of the silver market dropped out, Leadville clung to its status as a mining community, and the security blanket of “company town” paternalism. Leadville refused to relinquish its associated image of hard men capable of enduring unparalleled hardships. Moreover,


Leadville was not willing to bend to the EPA, as if to do so was to lose a sense of identity. Park City, on the other hand, made the difficult decision to liberate itself from its mining history to focus on tourism. Park City had two advantages: First it was one of several western mountain communities to receive Kennedy-era economic development funding to develop a nascent ski industry. Second, it began to attract a group of energetic individuals by the 1970s who had chosen Park City for its modest cost of living and beautiful scenery. By the mid 1970s Leadville was the same old Leadville, Park City was becoming an experientially diverse population. Emerging diversity in Park City soon ushered in a conscious focus on arts and culture, further reducing the


dominance of mining in both practice and historical memory. The more new people arrived in Park City, the more the community could embrace additional change. In Leadville, the more committed to mining it remained, the less flexible it became in its relationships with the rest of the world. The story of Pittsburgh involves a similar inflection point. Like many Midwest industrial towns, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo were all

“Either adapt to this new economy or fail.”

facing mill closure, unemployment, and downtown vacancy as companies began shifting resources and manpower to southern cities and abroad. Yet only Pittsburgh assembled a consortium of academic,

endeavors. Partnerships were struck with financial institutions instead

government, and business representatives who were charged with

of manufacturers.

shifting the city’s economy from blue collar to white.

Pittsburgh’s improvised economy, green architecture the signal to the

Technology became the connective tissue of

world that the old ways were really in the past, and higher education In saying yes to Apple, Google, the University of Pittsburgh, PNC

the lifeblood of the future.

Financial and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh had to abandon tens of

all-or-nothing proposition; there remain plenty of blue-collar

thousands of residents with skills sufficient only for hourly wage work

components in Pittsburgh, but the shift is real. And, the shift has not

in manual labor or service positions. In doing so, Pittsburgh effectively

been without cost, in some cases high. As Pittsburgh continues with its

issued an ultimatum to its citizens: either adapt to this new economy or

reinvention, prosperity eludes large segments of the ‘old population’

fail. Only by requiring residents to reinvent themselves, was the city’s

and sizeable portions of the city will take decades to revitalize. But the

economic and political infrastructure able to reinvent itself. Economic

larger point remains: Pittsburgh acted decisively, took considerable

development resources poured into medical and other academic

risk, and has not looked back.


It wasn’t then and is not now an

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Communities must adapt not once, and not when absolutely necessary, but continually.â&#x20AC;?

4 constant adaptation While these stories provide rich material to contemplate, they also allude to an important point that confronts every community in America on a continual basis: constant adaptation. They must adapt not once, and not when absolutely necessary, but continually. Economic development consultants and planners suggest to one struggling community after another that they must â&#x20AC;&#x153;rebrand,â&#x20AC;? but this misses the point. Renaming a failed dependency does not cure it. What lies beneath is still a failed set of assumptions, policies, programs, habits, and customs that unless resolved, will hold a community back so long as the world around them is either moving faster or in a different direction.


In many cases, what’s required of all these communities is the

Spartanburg chose to become a more global community than any in the

recognition that their current way of life is no longer successful. Take

American south, even if that meant suppressing a long-standing

Jamestown, NY, for instance. In a once thriving furniture hub of Swedish

southern heritage. Pittsburgh chose to turn its back on industry as the

immigrants with esteemed craftsmanship, cheaper southern labor

pathway for future prosperity, forcing its citizens to adapt along the

played a pivotal role in weakening that community’s ability to make the

way. Park City chose to embrace skiing and all that meant in terms of

furniture business profitable. The same fate has debilitated South

class conflicts between skiers with money and hardscrabble miners

Carolina mill towns as their own markets were undermined by Mexican


and Asian labor realities. Yet Jamestown has stubbornly clung to its manufacturing-based economy while refusing to invest in an alternative

In contrast, failing communities have chosen not to insist upon overall

future. It has failed to embrace and reinvest in technology. It has failed

reinvention through personal adaptation.

to locate its marketable center of gravity as its historic architecture and

possible to conceive of a community without mining. In Jamestown it

location. It has failed to realize that it is not a large and growing New

was not possible to not see the community as the center of the Southern

York community, but instead a smaller and possibly shrinking city that

Tier universe. What does all this have to do with planning and design?

has to seize different economic policies to succeed. In essence, it has


In Leadville it was not

failed to come to terms with the fact that, lacking a major shift towards technology and tourism, its geographic isolation on New York’s Southern Tier would doom it to permanent third class status. In contrast, Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina have invested in attracting a major BMW assembly plant in their town. This success has not arrived without challenges, as both cities had to invest in education to secure their image as a sophisticated world-class workforce with a thirst for quality labor. They shed entrenched “southern and proud of it” views, to learn about formerly foreign croissants, baguettes, the Euro and cycling, to appeal to additional multi-nationals considering investment alongside BMW. Even more, while these communities

a new and uncertain future

“The hard work consists of developing a concept of living in the future that is often fundamentally different than current lifestyles.”

adapted to accommodate European tastes, they never stopped being themselves. They adopted the croissant without losing the biscuit. In this they are much like Park City. Park City did not entirely abandon

For planners, the work of mobilizing a community is not about height

their mining history. Rather, they moved forward while mining slowly

and density or cul-de-sacs and livability. It is not about form-based

receded, and tourism, culture and skiing became today’s economic

codes. Those are placeholders. Whether utilizing charettes, public

engines. Park City’s mining past is constructively ever-present. In

meetings, or visioning, the work consists of mobilizing people to adapt

adaptive re-use of old materials in new buildings, in historic

to a new and uncertain future. The hard work consists of creating an

preservation, and throughout Park City’s contemporary life, history

environment where a community can slowly transition at a pace that it

plays a role. Adaptation does not insist we become chameleons. It does

can handle yet is fast enough to compete with the surrounding world.

require moving forward by letting some of the past go and keeping its

The hard work consists of developing a concept of living in the future

better aspects.

that is often fundamentally different than current lifestyles. Unfortunately, today’s planning tools do not address cities’ need for adaptation because facing hard truths is difficult. These hard truths, like lack of education, single parenthood, and unemployment, are complex problems with squishy realities that don’t easily fit into boxes or on flip charts. Oftentimes planners, designers, mayors, councilors and commissioners stand before the public and proclaim “people hate

5 66

change,” and proceed to effectively ensure that none of the change that’s needed occurs.

change is not the culprit Change is not the culprit. What is resisted is uncertainty. Communities

of environmental degradation, Brevard transitioned from basing its

fear that a new future might be worse than today. Successful

identity on a polluting industry into a clean one. They transitioned

communities adapt and move forward by locating the work required and

from the artificially high wages paid by the Ecusta paper mill to wages

by improvising their way forward.

Such communities grow their

more in line with the earning power of households with limited

capacity to adapt. In contrast, communities with nominal adaptive

education. They transitioned from one larger employer in a small town

capacity are more susceptible to becoming obsolete.

and mountain region to many employers.

They transitioned from

decades of disinvestment in public education to a focused effort to Planners and designers often facilitate the descent into obsolescence.

create a culture of learning. They transitioned from presumptions about

They might tell a community that Venetian canals will render their city

the ‘reach’ of C average school performance in marginal schools (I can

livable. Sidewalks will transform life. Shiny new stadiums will bring

still get a good job) that are nurtured by wink-wink-nod-nod

the big fish. These promises allow the community to stay where they

genuflections to the status quo, to community insistence on academic

are, and require nothing of the community by way of modified

achievement. They transitioned from extraction economies to recycling

expectations, changed habits, reflection, learning, and rebuilt

economies. They transitioned from labor to knowledge. And finally,

assumptions and systems. This is why for example Atlanta will likely

they transitioned from company town paternalism (be it in the shadow

never rebound from its post subprime crash until it addresses Georgia

of industry or government) to genuine competition.

banking corruption and racial targeting. This is why Phoenix will look at recovery from its housing woes without seizing the weak market as a

What will separate Brevard, NC from other communities will be the

chance to rethink water policy.

Such self-reflection for most

degree to which the community invests in exploring the underlying

communities is challenging. And, few planners are trained and many

governing variables that created the assumptions on which the local

unwilling to facilitate this kind of work.

community was formerly predicated - acceptable school achievement, the role of education in the community, and the community’s

Consider the fact that planners and designers confront Cleveland’s

relationship with the environment.

shrinking population and excess housing supply not with coherent shrink management strategies that confront reduced numbers of jobs

The many transitions that must occur come with risks and uncertain

and aging demographics, but by hosting design competitions to

futures. The transition from extraction and polluting pivots on new

re-imagine vacant lots for infill housing. The Lincoln Land Policy

facilities having financial logic, which means financing must adjust

Institute proposes that Cleveland’s primary problem is that it lacks

accordingly. This also means the community must prioritize long-term

quality infill architecture. While creative infill is surely a part of

environmental protection over short-term profit. To transition to a

reinventing Cleveland, it is also a tangential placement of energy that

knowledge economy, high wages must be replaced by modest wages.


There are no easy answers, especially when educational investments






down-zoning, and migrating away from once booming industries that

have payoffs years and decades down the road.

are not going to return.. This ushers in a prescient question:

In each of these transitions, some communities will fare better than

How can a community grow its capacity to adapt and what can planners and designers do to contribute to this work?

others. Inevitable to transition is the arrival of people from outside the

The small mountain town of Brevard, North Carolina provides an

talent from Carnegie Mellon. But little of that talent originates from

excellent example. Brevard once boasted one of the highest

Pittsburgh, and few of the highest paid workers come from Pittsburgh. If

wage-paying paper mills in the United States, a plant that began

such companies are there owing to local subsidy in the form of

winding down in 1987 and finally closed in 2002. Incumbent on that

relocation or expansion incentives, this can understandably add insult

community is the work of transitions. In a world somewhat less tolerant

to injury and give the transformation a painful edge.

community who will impose their will and receive many of the benefits of change. At the neighborhood level this is what we experience as gentrification. At a larger scale, a class of workers may arrive and take jobs for which few locals are qualified. Think back to Pittsburgh. Apple and Google now have a substantial presence and recruit world-class


closing thoughts But what is planning if not the organized calculus of managing change? The pre-figured best guesses about winners and losers? All too often planners think that planning is about carrying capacity and land management codes and zoning, about regulating job-generating formulas and floor area ratios. At their most fruitful, these are tools. Planners must position themselves to facilitate the use of these tools to mobilize a community to adapt. What is design if not the outline and management of the structure needed to spark and contain the improvisational energy needed to drive adaptation? Instead many designers have been reduced to helping communities avoid the challenging work of adaptation rather than growing their capacity for constructive change.

“we should focus our energy on the underlying governing variables that have come to shape our communities. We can use our talents to rethink and re-imagine the status quo, not in the form we already know, but in a shape that can evolve.”

This is not to say that planning isn’t important. Planning is essential. But what must be asked is: planning to what end and planning in what manner? The same is true for design. Park City’s commitment to design is a key component in that community’s continual forward progress. The dialogue in that mature city regarding their future is grounded in the vocabulary of design guidelines. They worry about height because it impacts view corridors and they worry about view corridors because they bear on prosperity, which impacts general revenue, which impacts the community’s ability to grow sustainably. They worry about density because that shapes value, which subsidizes quality of life. They worry about massing because that conveys a commitment to or a departure from their historical place as settled a century prior. They use these terms to convey a willingness to engage the future. They are not goals in and of themselves.

They give meaning to the past in those

communities with adaptive capacity even as they become handrails for laypersons to manage their future.


As planners and designers we should focus our energy on the underlying governing variables that have come to shape our communities. We can use our talents to rethink and re-imagine the status quo, not in the form we already know, but in a shape that can evolve.



the author

Before establishing czb, Charles Buki was a consultant to the Millennial Housing Commission. He has held senior positions at the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation and The American Institute of Architects. He was a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University and a Mesa Fellow at the Common Counsel Foundation. He has lectured widely on revitalization and gentrification; in 1992 he was a panelist at the United Nations Conference on Human Settlement. Since founding czb in 2001 he has continued to speak out on the need for a new approach to community development based on markets, investments, demand, and outcomes. Major czb clients have included the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago, and the Federal Reserve Bank, the the WK Kellogg Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Harvard University. Charles Buki presently serves as board member for both the International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA), and Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. (COI).

Charles Buki

images 1 Abandoned building in a failing community 2 Abandoned vehicle in a failing community 3 Vacant Lot in a failing community 4 Abandoned house in a failing community 5 Deserted bicycle 6, 7 Community planning meeting *All photos courtesy of CZB



team members

editor-in-chief Christina owns her own practice, Contour Architecture. She has a special affection for projects that revitalize local communities through sensitive, inclusive and sustainable design. As a fifth-generation Arizona native, she is also interested in architecture that is sensitive to and integrates with our unique desert environment.

Christina has experiencewith numerous

project types including collegiate, mixed-use, government, and private development projects. Additionally, Christina is a writer and editor. She has contributed to and served as the Director of Forward, the national AIA architectural and design journal of the National Associates Committee, and written for Texas Architect, the Sustainable Cities Network and the


Blooming Rock blog. Christina graduated from Rice University.

creative director Nicholas Tsontakis graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon. He is an Associate AIA member looking to get his architectural registration in 2013. He is a project manager at Tsontakis Architecture, his fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s company, and owns and operates nicholas tsontakis Design. He founded the company to diversify his architectural experiences beyond that of a singular office and is currently involved in creating construction documents for multiple architectural firms. He also acts as the creative director/copublisher for the Arizona Residential Architects (ARA) publication. The ARA is a group of 15 distinguished, residential, architectural firms that includes Tsontakis Architecture.

nicholas tsontakis associate AIA editors

abigail hoover, RA, ncarb, leed ap

Yumiko Ishida, AIA, CSBA, LEED AP.

Betsy Lynch, RA

A native New Mexican, Abby moved to the

Yumiko is Architect and Vice President of

Betsy, an Arizona native, grew up in

Valley in 2004 after completing her

Acanthus Architecture & Planning in

central Phoenix, received her Bachelor of

Master's in Architecture at Harvard's GSD.

Phoenix, Arizona, with a practice focused on

Architecture from University of Arizona

There she worked for editors Amanda



and has been practicing locally for the

Reeser Lawrence and Ashley Schafer on

Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Yumiko

last 17 years. As a project manager at

the Issue 3: Housing Tactics issue of

earned her A.B. from Bryn Mawr Collage and

GouldEvans, she has focused the last 11

Praxis: Journal of Writing + Building.

M.Arch. from University of California,

years of her career on public sector

Since moving to Phoenix, she had the

Berkeley, before joining Acanthus in 1997.

architecture, including the award winning

good fortune to work with and learn from

The story of her post-disaster assistance

ASU Polytechnic Union and the Arizona

creative, talented individuals at Marlene

work, Lessons from Haiti, was published in

Western College Community Center.

Imirzian & Associates, Smithgroup, and

the inaugural issue of AIA Forum | Arizona.

Beyond architecture, she is a wife,


Gould Evans, and is honored to be a recent

mother, avid photographer, competitive

addition to Architekton. She lives in Old

swimmer and outdoor enthusiast.

Town Scottsdale and is a current member of the 2013 Scottsdale Bond Task Force.

The Forum is published annually by AIA Arizona. Thank you for reading.


call for submissions

The AIA Forum Arizona is a peer reviewed publication published by AIA Arizona to the AIA community and the general public. Topics include but are not limited to professional practice, architectural technology, case studies, and architectural, urban, and environmental design. SUBMISSIONS Forum welcomes the submission of essays, projects and responses to articles. Submitted materials are subject to peer and editorial review. All Forum issues are themed, so articles and projects are selected relative to the issueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s specific subject.

PEER REVIEWERS We are looking for experts in all areas of architecture and design to serve as peer reviewers for future Forum issues. Past authors will also be invited to serve as peer reviewers. Please contact the AIA Forum Arizona Editor-in-Chief, Christina Noble, at if you are interested in contributing.

AIA ARIZONA Patrick Panetta, AIA - AIA Arizona President Craig Randock, AIA - AIA Arizona President - Elect Tina Litteral, Hon. AIA, CAE - AIA Arizona Executive Vice President

AIA FORUM ARIZONA: EDITORIAL BOARD Tina Litteral, Hon. AIA, CAE - AIA Arizona Executive Vice President Suad Mahmuljin, Associate AIA - Founder, Board Chair Doug Nielsen, Associate AIA

Mark Patterson, AIA Joseph Worrall, AIA Marie-Jose Poulet, Affiliate AIA

AIA FORUM ARIZONA: ASSOCIATE EDITORS Mark Patterson, AIA James Trahan, AIA Cindy Louie, Associate AIA Karla Grijalva, Associate AIA

THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS: ARIZONA 30 N 3rd Ave, Ste 200, Phoenix, AZ 85003 P: 602.252.4200 Fall 2012. Volume 2. Published annually by AIA Arizona. Copyright and Reprinting: (C) 2012 AIA. All Rights Reserved.

OCT. 2012

a publication of the american institute of architects ARIZONA

AIA Arizona Forum No. 2  

No. 2 | Vol. 1

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