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2015 Award Winners - AzASLA

2015 Award Winners

Eastmark – DU7 South

President's Award - Award of Excellence - General Design


Eastmark is the Heart and Hub of the East Valley. Eastmark is designed to integrate intimate neighborhoods with each other, their community elements, the Eastmark Great Park and the adjacent neighborhoods to achieve the community goal of “living well over time.” The neighborhoods are designed with connected living in mind. On-street pedestrian corridors and necklace streets link the neighborhood parks into a singular system. The neighborhood parks are designed to be extensions of the home front yards. The Eastmark design guidelines encourage the homes to be pushed to the front setback line, which is generally 5’ off the sidewalk. This promotes larger private areas in the rear yards and allows the parks to act as neighborhood public gathering spaces.To encourage socialization the neighborhood parks integrate fixed and free play activities with a comfortable space for gathering for the adults. Custom shade structures, fire pits, moveable furniture and free play areas encourage the neighbors to stay longer and return more often. Each park is unique in its design. The concept is to encourage the neighbors to not only enjoy and take pride in their park but to travel to the others to experience other activities and extended socialization. Native parks and washes with desert discovery activities are contrasted with rose and parterre gardens surrounding children’s playhouses, stages and climbing structures. There are activities for every age in the Eastmark neighborhood parks. The landscape palette was designed with the idea of “Desert Urbanism” in mind. Natives, desert adapted and ornamentals are integrated to create a unique palette unlike any in the southwest. The project perimeter is designed with native planting as a connection to our Sonoran Desert and to keep/re-establish wildlife corridors and breeding areas. In addition, the design integrated gabions for insect life, Hawk poles and water harvesting.  See More >>

Desert Trails Bike Park

Honor Award - General Design

Norris Design

Surrounded by residential and commercial development in Mesa, Arizona, the Desert Trails Park is a one-of-a-kind park in the community. The 40 acre city-owned property is home to a 5 acre municipal water facility, native desert vegetation, and 91 feet of natural change in elevation. For years a majority of the property sat unused and the site became an unofficial dumping ground for garbage. With bond funding from the City of Mesa and voluntary community clean-up crews, the derelict property was transformed into a unique park that is utilized by all ages and skill levels. The intent of this community park is to provide active recreation to support the growing demand for mountain biking and hiking, all while maintaining the daily operations of the municipal water facility. Desert Trails Park serves the community as the only urban mountain bike park in the metro area. Respecting the native vegetation and drainage ways, the trails were designed to weave through the existing vegetation, and utilize the natural topography minimizing the need for excessive grading. Many custom details were thoughtfully developed resulting in minimal impact to the site. The outcome not only enhances the user’s experience with nature, but also creates a vibrant and challenging course. The signage, restroom and shade structures are designed to create an organic aesthetic and blend with the surrounding desert landscape.  See More >>

Industrial Oasis

Honor Award - General Design

Steve Martino

The site, located in a central city industrial area, is one of hundreds of similar buildings surrounded by asphalt, overhead power lines, and razor wire. The clients both artists, craftsmen, and Arizona natives bought this building for their expanding business and wanted to make an environmental contribution to the area. The clients wanted to demonstrate sustainability in every part of their operations. Their landscape goal was to minimize the asphalt and bring a small piece of the desert back into this gritty part of the city. (Landscape plants have been stolen out of the site here) The building’s entry opened directly into an intersection with a streetscape of tall fences and razor wire that sat directly behind the city sidewalk. The neighborhood is actually pretty vibrant with the constant flow of delivery trucks and overhead planes. We created a small entry courtyard and de-compression area that softened the view to the intersection and created a small courtyard space where employees could bring out a table and chairs for lunch. The existing roll-up delivery door was retained and when open connects the small courtyard with the interior of the shop and warehouse for a view to the courtyard and let morning sun into the warehouse. This modest project’s landscape made a huge difference to the site and as well as making a contribution to the neighborhood. Asphalt was removed and replaced with permeable paving in the landscape areas. Native landscape plants that re-seed themselves were planted. The plant selection brings butterflies and humming birds to the site. A simple drip irrigation system supplements the rainfall.  See More >>

Hance Park

Honor Award - Analysis & Planning

!melk + Weddle Gilmore + Floor Associates

The initiative to reinvigorate Hance Park emerged from the Hance Park Conservancy, an organization of neighboring stakeholders, cultural institutions, businesses and concerned citizens; its mission statement: “activate and unite the community by promoting the creative use of public space and a vibrant arts and cultural experience.” The existing Hance Park (32.5 acres, downtown Phoenix) dates from the early 90s, for the most part constructed over ‘the last mile’ of I-10. The original design was never fully realized because of funding short-falls. It is poorly realized, under-maintained, poorly used, and inappropriately programmed. Moreover, the park is not on par with Phoenix’s rapid city-core development. Over a period of 8 Months the Master Plan Team organized a 3 tiered analysis and planning process, encompassing a deep analysis and investigation that revealed undiscovered history, examined connectivity and circulation patterns, and studied adjacent economic development potential. The Master Plan is built around the following values: economic growth, sustainability, programming, and identity. In order to establish a “uniquely Phoenix” park, the team suggests that a future design should reference the context of “The Valley of the Sun” by deriving inspiration from local geographic and geologic features. Limited water and harsh sun are important considerations and the team studied how wind and sun works within the native landscapes. The Master Plan suggests a design vocabulary that evolves as one journeys through the park, to create spaces that are both exciting and memorable. “Landforms” such as abstracted buttes and canyons can create distinct spatial and programmatic moments, and establish shady cool areas. Native and adapted plant species provide microclimate, frame corridors, produce fragrance, and offer educational experiences to the splendors of the local flora and fauna. Finally, solar energy and net-zero water usage are established goals for the upcoming park design.  See More >>

Mesa City Center

Honor 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.  See More >>

Florence North End Framework Vision Plan and Territory Square Zoning

Honor Award - Analysis and Planning

Swaback Partners, PLLC

Florence is one of the oldest and most historic communities in Arizona. Over the past several decades, as the Phoenix valley and surrounding communities have grown and prospered, many smaller rural communities in Arizona have struggled to survive. Florence continues to be the government seat for Pinal County and has managed to diversify its local economy with agriculture, tourism, education and government facilities. Its geographic location halfway between Phoenix and Tucson has resulted in an uptick in residential growth and expansion relative to the “Sun Corridor”- which has been identified by demographers as a major future growth area for the southwestern United State. Recent residential growth in the region has been driven by conventional development models that sometimes are lacking the character of established traditional neighborhood developments. Furthermore, sometimes these new subdivisions made little effort to reflect agrarian histories. Conventional suburban development patterns have continued southwardly, threatening the historic fabric of the downtown and surroundings. In 2009, when most Arizona communities were struggling with municipal budgets and minimizing pro-active planning efforts, the Town invested in a master planning and design process that would set the stage for the expansion of the core of Florence and surrounding lands in order to provide a framework for mixed use development to encourage authentic and culturally appropriate environments. The focus on the north end of the core, along the Gila River, was a strategic decision that provided an opportunity to better link the north and south portions of the community. All the initiatives had the goal of strengthening the quality of life for residents and visitors. Working in concert with Town officials and community leaders, the landscape architects have lead a multi-year, multidisciplinary team of consultants over the past six years to develop the initial master plan, orchestrate community engagement & participation, prepare new zoning codes and participate in the phase one implementation of what has now been branded as the Town’s north end district- “Territory Square”.   See More >>

Hummingbird House

Award of Excellence - Residential Design

Colwell Shelor

Sited on the declivitous embankment of the north side of Mummy Mountain in Paradise Valley, the Hummingbird House uncoils down the slope through a series of interweaving curvilinear wall forms. The elevation of the earth descends rapidly from 1548' to 1486', with the greatest fall occurring on the approach, between the main road to the home entrance, a fall marked by nearly vertical walls of Precambrian granite and outcroppings of quartz and schorl. The goals of the project were to solve considerable erosion challenges, restore and re-vegetate the landscape, preserve the remarkable ecological integrity of the site and architecture and create an outdoor courtyard in a previously underutilized area between two walls of the house. Groups of boulders matching the rocky site were winched into place in groups onto the steep slopes to stabilize, retain topsoil, increase infiltration, reduce erosion and create plantable pockets for an indigenous blend of native plant species such as the Foothills Palo Verde trees (Cercidium microphyllum), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Creosote (Larrea tridentata), and other native soil-holding species. This visually rich tapestry of native plantings and restored habitat gives way to a more cultivated landscape as one moves through the auto court to the front entry. A small but visually prominent space located between curving walls was transformed from an afterthought into an art-centric extension of the indoor living spaces. A spare use of materials created a modern aesthetic - rusted steel risers unite the two levels and raised slot planters with simple, sculptural plantings slide past one another. Dichondra was used in lieu of turf for a carpet of green. Curving concrete retaining walls control erosion and provide a clear distinction between the natural and enhanced landscape. Local artist Mayme Kratz's resin wall was designed to transition between the house wall and the landscape, providing a magnificent focal point in the garden.  See More >>

House of Desert Gardens

Award of Excellence - Residential Design

Colwell Shelor

This project demonstrates landscape architecture's extraordinary power to go beyond the pictorial - to unite the ecological, sensory, and spatial characteristics of a site and create a lasting place of integrity and meaning. Located on a 7-acre property at the foot of Camelback Mountain, a prominent landmark linking Arizona cities Phoenix, Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, the site has a cross slope of 50’ in the north-south direction. Residential landscapes in this desirable neighborhood of Paradise Valley are typically surrounded by thick non-native hedging bounding all sides and an interior of manicured, water-intensive shrubs and lawns in the Mediterranean style. The existing landscape on this property was no exception. The client entertains regularly and uses their home and property for fundraising functions, and desired a water-efficient landscape that was reflective of their passion and advocacy for desert plant life. As a result, the site was transformed into one of conservation and discovery; and reconnected integrally to its local and regional context. Each of the collection of garden galleries emanates a distinct landscape essence; each turn on the pathway presents a new focal point, whether coming upon a majestic Cordon, a worn garden gate framing a gallery of Agaves, the twisted form of an Ironwood, a field of Yuccas or the rich texture of rock walls contrasted with sculptural cacti or draping Bougainvillea. Individually, the diverse gardens demonstrate a rich interplay of complimentary plant species from arid regions around the world; collectively, the gardens provide a year-round show of marvel cascading through the landscape. Throughout the seasons, the garden comes alive through the of unique collections of diverse plants species, from the large clusters of showy chartreuse flowers on the Gopher Plant, enormous white blooms adorning the Night Blooming Cereus, brilliant yellow hues of the Palo Verde trees, to the bright red tubular flowers producing abundant nectar for the birds and bees on the Silver Torch Cactus. The year ends in a crescendo of color in the Aloe garden, when one after another of the dozens of species bloom for months on end.  See More >>

Prairie House

Honor Award - Residential Design

Colwell Shelor

Inspired by the region's raw natural beauty with its extreme semi-arid steppe climate, and the historic, rural character of the site, the landscape architect transformed what was once an exposed, conventional brick house on a hill into a bold, contemporary residence and garden united with the prairie in Dodge City, Kansas. The project serves to transform prevailing attitudes that look at landscape as an abstraction only to be viewed from inside into one that expresses landscape as a vital part of the whole. The landscape architect designed two additions to the residence - an entry vestibule to the south, giving the residence a much needed protected entry, and an extended living room to the north - both with extended shade structure canopies that transition light quality from opaque to semitransparentto full light and visually anchor the house. The uncomplicated composition floats within a meadow of drought-tolerant grasslands, servingto frame long views and establish an appealing, fluid entry sequence to the front door. The clean lines and restrained palette of rustic Corten beams, slender columns and siding of varying widths, cast-in-place concrete, gravel and water create a contemplative, inwardly focused space in front, and a comfortable outdoor entertainment patio to the north. Using climate-appropriate plantings and inflicting little damage to the site, the landscape architect created a comfortable series of spaces for family life to transpire while expressing the client's strong environmental ethic to respect and honor the land. The existing landscape was largely non-existent and consisted of a lawn surrounding the house with a spattering of ornamental shrubs. All turf was removed. A series of linear concrete retaining walls and stepped planters wrap the house and gently connect the terraces back to the earth. Native species are abundant at the outer edges of the gardens and increasingly evolve to more domestic selections; those closest to the house contain a plethora of colorful plant combinations and culinary herbs. A grove of Desert Willows with a native, drought tolerant understory screen the site from the highway and provide a sense of compression and expansion during one's arrival.  See More >>

Ocotillo Road Garden

Honor Award - Residential

Steve Martino

The original plan and photos show how this small land-locked garden was separated into two levels by two sets of stairs and dominated by boulder retaining walls. The clients wanted an elegant and modern outdoor space that related architecturally to their house and would be used for entertaining in a gallery-like setting which would showcase two large sculptures they had in storage. The boulders and stairs took up valuable floor space. The Landscape Architect removed the stairs and boulders, and lowered the upper terrace 4 feet. He expanded the garden to the west property line along the same contours eliminating cutting higher into the hill while providing needed new access to the back yard from the driveway. The existing non-native plants were replaced with southwest desert plants. The water channel creates a visual axis from the entry door to the prized Kaneko ceramic sculpture. New foldaway glass doors seamlessly connect the garden with the house and allow the water sounds to fill the interior. The spa area in the back corner was raised 4 feet for mountain views, the existing wall was raised and a second fireplace added for privacy from the adjacent houses. New steps lead up to the desert, while the desert plants spill down into the garden. The steps are classic ‘steps to no-where.’ They lead to neighbor’s property line – this ‘borrowed-scenery’ trick makes the adjacent open space look like part of this property. A long wall that wraps around the back terrace forms the garden. It’s material and form changes as it moves across the space. The designer tried to exploit every opportunity he could find to make this garden an extension to the house. The results is an elegant modern garden that celebrates its desert setting by making it part of the owners daily experience.  See More >>


Honor Award - Student Individual

Baldwin Saew, University of Arizona

This design revolves around the concept of celebration. It is intended to celebrate the students, celebrate the environment, and celebrate design. As the focal point of the arts section of the college, this plaza would be a place of relaxation, revitalization, and inspiration. The design is directly informed by observation and site analysis. The site is programmed to be a place of both environmental stewardship as well as allow for events and social gatherings. Some of the site amenities include shaded seating, an open hardscape gathering space, and bike parking. The overall plan follows an eco-revelatory perspective to enhance the environmental conditions while offering cultural infrastructure. In this way, the project pushes the bar of sustainable design by incorporating bioswales for water harvesting and stormwater mitigation as well as considering irrigation techniques from rooftop runoff. The site is currently a parking lot, a place for cars. My project offers a new vision for this lot that will enable a regenerative ecology to unfold and that is designed at a pedestrian scale.  See More >>

Catch and Release

Honor Award - Student Collaborative

Gina Trautner, University of Arizona

The University of Arizona currently has a comprehensive master plan that includes replacing a 3 acre parking lot with a green space and library. Following the EPA’s Campus Rainworks Challenge guidelines, this is a proposal for the future UA green space. The concept for this new library and green space can be described as “catch and release,” in which social and natural resources are conscientiously integrated into site activities so that benefits brought to the site can be effectively shared with the greater community. Environmentally, water resources will be managed and distributed to better sustain native and desert adapted vegetation. Socially, users of the surrounding department buildings will have a common iconic space to congregate for events and expositions to bring use and energy to the north side of the university campus.  See More >>

Studio Kanini

Honor Award - Student Collaborative

Jesse Westad, Arizona State University

The goal of the semester was to design workforce housing (affordable housing complex and a mental health clinic on a 4-acre site in downtown Phoenix to benefit Native America Connections (NAC). NAC is a non-profit organization that serves families and individuals through Native American culturally appropriate behavioral health, affordable housing, and community development services. In order to fulfill development to address the needs of the underserved and vulnerable populations within the urban fabric of downtown Phoenix. In order to fulfill this daunting task an interdisciplinary team of students was put together with backgrounds in architecture, landscape architecture, biomedical informatics, design of healthcare and hearing environments, as well as exercise and wellness. The team delivered not only design to the client but also a robust research brief to advance the conversation of community building and evidence based design. Construction is currently underway on the project.  See More >>

ASLA's Mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.
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