Arizona Center

Phoenix, AZ
United States
Arizona Center

Comprising the southeastern section of a six block parcel in the center of downtown Phoenix, this urban plaza and public green space contributed to the revitalization of the city in the 1990s. The Rouse Company commissioned SWA Group and landscape architect William Callaway to design the site plan and landscape, in concert with the architecture firm of HKS, Inc. The commercial complex includes two three-story office/retail buildings, two fourteen-story office buildings, a movie theater, and parking facilities. Restaurants and shops are sited in a low, semicircular shaped building, with the opposing side of the circle comprising three acres of sunken gardens, terraces, and water features. When viewed from the towers above, the landscape resembles the geometric spiral of a conch shell.

Flanking the adjacent streets and lining the curvilinear paths that course through the site, some 800 date palms unify the design. Covered walkways and other architectural details are inspired by the form of the palm leaves. Several feet below the dining terraces, the sunken garden is organized into outdoor rooms. A repeating, radiating pattern of crushed gravel walkways provides access to small sections of lawn, a maze, and xeric parterre plantings of yucca, sage, and mesquite. Water cascades from terraces, flows through grottoes and a constructed spring, spouts from sculptural cartouches, and collects in a centrally located pool with sinuous edges. In the southeastern section of the parcel, an expanse of manicured lawn and a grassy knoll provide open space that also serves public events. SWA Group received a 1999 Merit Award in Design from the American Society of Landscape Architects.