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Himmel Park & Treat Ave. Desert Park

Genius Loci: Genius of a Place 1. Human Systems: contemporary 2. Natural Systems: historical and contemporary perspectives 3. Mutually beneficial relationships: Design solutions 4. Commentary and Narrative 5. Concluding thoughts

University of Arizona

Himmel Park

Randolph Park

Sam Hughes Neighborhood Residential

The Site Appx. 25,000 Sq Ft

Sam Hughes Neighborhood Residential

Historic Photo of the Santa Cruz River from A Mountain looking north. Today the river does not run in this section of Tucson and subsequently the mesquite bosque in this picture no longer exists. 1904 - Arizona Historical Society. Photo ID: 26691

A typical mesquite bosque around the Santa Cruz river. Source: Arizona Historical Society

In the mid-1850s, the entire valley was a forest of mesquite trees, with cottonwoods, willows and walnuts along the major streams. Much of the area was marshy, and malaria was a major problem for the original Fort Lowell along the Santa Cruz River. The introduction of cattle, the cutting of trees for fuel and building materials, and possibly a drought in the late 1800s led to changes in the hydrology such as down cutting of stream channels and dewatering of streambeds. Mott, Water Resources Scoping Report, 1997 Today, the same practices continue to destroy the few natural areas in the Tucson valley.


Forest Water Judging from current design and engineering practices, as a whole our society misunderstands the energy of water. To learn how to integrate the forces of nature into our lives, we stand a chance at being able to repair our landscapes and invite nature back into our lives for the benefit of all life forms.

The Design Imperative

Rebuild and create acccess to nature in a form that increases our conscious awareness of the natural systems and is suggestive of an alternative life style and cultural practice of living regeneratively within the environment.

The Considerations

Harnessing the energies of water Mitigating our climatic extremes through microclimate Regenerating the desert while making it comfortale and accessible to all generations.

The Concept:

An Urban Mesquite Forest Bioswale

Concluding Thoughts

We can bring the forests back into the urban context if we learn how to harness our natural water.

How do we reconcile the past, the present and the future of our relationship to our land?

Considering the slow moving nature of our political and social decision making processes, currently more grassroots awareness is vital!