Phoenix possesses a strong heritage of progressive twentieth century public architecture. Park Central Shopping City was originally planned and designed in 1956 by renowned Los Angeles architect Welton Becket. As Phoenix quickly grew, the area around Park Central Mall saw an increasing number of mid-rise and high-rise office buildings built along Central Avenue, known today as Midtown. As the construction dust settled, the mall, known by now as Park Central Center, encompassed approximately 705,700 leasable square feet. Over time Park Central underwent numerous renovations in attempts to compete with newer, enclosed shopping malls. But by the late 1980s Park Central had lost most of its original design charm and vision along with its major retailers, seeing much of its space turned into call- or data-centers.
The goals for the Park Central master planning and phase one redevelopment were established through a series of interactive, cross-disciplinary charrettes. As a part of the project kick-off, richärd+bauer coordinated a future visioning workshop including stakeholders from the client team (financial investors, facility managers, real estate), City of Phoenix (Economic Development advisors), design team (planning, architecture, landscape architecture, interior design), and construction management team (cost estimator, project manager, construction superintendent). This collaborative approach allowed all stakeholders to collectively identify the goals and outcomes defining project success, including community impact far beyond the boundaries of the physical site. This workshop set the tone for the ongoing design, construction, and community engagement process, providing a profound mutual understanding of the significance of the project and everyone’s roles in achieving our collective project goals and objectives.
Our collective vision is focused on returning the property to its rightful position as the heart of Midtown Phoenix, by creating a vibrant mix of sustainable spaces and programs that encourage a healthy work- and life-style. This first phase of redevelopment will be the catalyst for a tectonic shift in the urban fabric of Phoenix and Midtown’s capacity for technology, commerce, entertainment, and urban living. Our team developed a master planning strategy for: zoning, transportation planning and phasing studies, utilities and infrastructure planning, real estate parceling, planning and feasibility studies for hotel, office, residential, and educational uses on the site.
With a nod toward its past and an eye toward the future, the design creates strong connections between the interior and exterior environments via tempered landscape spaces. Clarity and simplicity of the design is evident in the expression of structure and building systems, as well as innovative use of materials and finishes. Recognizing that the success of Park Central relies on its ability to inspire diverse public uses, the designed spaces encourage the community into the project to create art, forge new collective memories, and imbue the spaces with humanity. These principles are fundamental in the design of the campus befitting the vision for a future Phoenix and the spirit of the original Park Central Mall – simple and powerful ideas derived from the goals and aspirations of the client and the surrounding community.