Mesa City CenterHonor Award - Analysis and Planning
Colwell Shelor + West 8 + Weddle Gilmore
In the wake of a declining downtown, the voters of the City of Mesa, Arizona approved a $70 million park bond election, which included funding for preliminary planning and design of the 18.3 acre Mesa City Center. This is the first step in the design and development of a signature public space which will be a key element in the activation of the downtown core and a catalyst for revitalization and redevelopment. When developed, the Mesa City Center will be an asset to the entire City and will improve the quality of life for Mesa residents, businesses and visitors. The team's research into Mesa's history was extensive, helping to determine the right questions to ask today’s citizens. The design team sought input from many diverse perspectives including City leadership, staff, downtown businesses and citizens team and worked with stakeholders during a series of three innovative and fun workshops that allowed the public to express their ideas. Measureable data was gathered, helping to define the highest priorities and shape the guiding principles for the design. Conceived as a “town square with a twist,” the design combines the City’s and community’s desires for a venue for its major events and festivals; a shady, green welcoming setting and an iconic, world-class space announcing Mesa as a leading city for innovation, arts, business and community. The City's ‘green heart’ is characterized by generous spaces for flexible uses, inviting landscapes celebrating the Sonoran desert, and ground floor uses with public oriented programs that draw people into and through Mesa City Center to Main Street, the Arts Center, Convention Center and residential neighborhoods. The centerpiece and icon of the project is a stunning Arizona copper shade structure inspired by the Ballet Folklórico – the Wind Dancer. The design repurposes and renews existing buildings on site to retain a critical mass of users and to create a focal point from which new development will grow outside of the project boundaries. City Hall will be re-skinned with vertical fins to transform the building architecturally and improve its energy performance. The team performed framework studies for mobility and access, sustainable design strategies, existing and planned architecture, economic development and operation and maintenance recommendations as part of the planning process. Continuous programming, a robust public art program and activating Mesa's Streets are all vital parts of the plan to transform Mesa's City Center into a destination that will be a lively downtown hub and a catalyst for the next 100 years of Mesa's growth.