Desert Arroyo Park

Honor Award - General Design
Logan Simpson
In 2012, City of Mesa voters approved a bond to develop a 58-acre parcel at the corner of McKellips and Ellsworth Roads for a park. Adjacent to Zaharis Elementary School, the designer’s and client’s vision was to take full advantage of the existing landscape by creating a park focused on the experiential qualities associated with the Sonoran Desert and its flora and fauna. The Park dedicates 70% of the 58-acre site to preservation of the native landscape while seamlessly embedding 30% as passive recreation. This involved the preservation of saguaro and barrel cactus and desert trees that personify the wild desert upland. A primary and secondary trail system was designed to preserve and enhance the site’s existing washes, setting up the foundation for a unique interpretive educational experience. Located along key points of the trails are four key educational nodes featuring interpretive signage, picnic ramadas, and nature-themed play equipment designed to enhance the already interesting character of the site. The park is bisected by a dry desert washes that direct rain away from the school and provides wildlife corridors. The desert wash was bridged to connect areas during seasonal floods and highlight key views of the adjacent landscape. A comprehensive signage package was designed by the landscape designers and included main entry signs, loop trail signs, wayfinding signs, and interpretive signage. Engaging state-of-the-art green infrastructure (wifi!) and a diverse landscape, the Park has become a living classroom for urban ecology, healthy living, and sustainability in southeast Mesa. The result is park programming that respects its natural context creating a dynamic relationship between built and natural elements.

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