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Are We Ready for the Heat? Resilient strategies for the city of the future

As part of the Arizona Center identity and gateway concept plan, ornamental screens and native plans provide shade and a sense of place. Photo courtesy Gensler



With rising temperatures and less precipitation, more than half of humans around the globe are anticipated to live in desert environments by 2030. As humans, we are becoming a desert species. Rising temperatures and drought are becoming a “climate reality,” not only here in the Sonoran Desert, but globally.

As Phoenicians and designers in this increasingly hotter environment, we have the responsibility to lead by example, and drive the effort in making Phoenix “The City of the Future.”

What can be done to mitigate this? A few strategies such as adding shade, using permeable pavement, as well as native vegetation, can be employed.

URBAN SPRAWL AND THE URBAN HEAT ISLAND EFFECT Being one of the fastest-growing cities has some economic advantages, but with that comes rapid urbanization. Urban sprawl is one of the drivers in exacerbating the Urban Heat Island Effect, which is the contributing factor in making our city hotter. Adding materials with a high heat storage capacity, like concrete and asphalt, traps a lot of heat on the ground during the day and leads to increased nighttime temperatures.

One case study is the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel Renovation and Adams Street activation project.





The new exterior screen, composed of locally produced aluminum fins, shades the sidewalk and creates a play of shadow, light and striking repetitive patterns, enhancing the pedestrian experience along Adams Street. Using native desert landscape, trees and greenery line the street in bioswale planters designed to capture rainwater runoff and provide additional shade.

Profile for Green Living AZ magazine

THE NEW Green Living Magazine September 2020