If all goes according to plan, Mesa, Arizona is going to have one heck of a public plaza in the center of its downtown. The city just unveiled schemes from three teams, selected from a recent RFQ (PDF), to design the space, located on an area currently occupied mostly by local government buildings and surface parking lots. According to the city, the site, meant to accommodate up to 25,000 people, would host annual events like the Mesa Arts Festival, Arizona Celebration of Freedom, and the Great Arizona Bicycle Festival.
The three finalists are Colwell Shelor + West 8 + Weddle Gilmore; Otak – Mayer/Reed; and Woods Bagot – Surface Design.
The Coldwell Shelor + West 8 + Weddle Gilmore team presented a “Town Square With a Twist,” keeping the area cool through, among other things, trees, water features, and a giant copper shade structure. Varied upper and lower terraces would be connected by a “leisure promenade,” designed for walking and running.
Otak-Mayer/ Reed centers on a “Living Room Plaza,” an open design lined with hardscape and punctuated by shade structures, lawns, trees, and a reflecting pool. Other elements of the plan—meant to connect seamlessly with surrounding streets—include more intimate courtyards and a grand arrival portal, sculpture park, pond, and pedestrian breezeways.
The Woods Bagot – Surface Design team proposed “Mesa Central,” an undulating landscape, inspired by the area’s natural topography, featuring a diverse mix of gardens, performance spaces, plazas, play areas, and places for escape. Major components of the scheme, which are similar in form and function to natural elements, include a wash, bluffs, foothills, mesa, canal, and orchards, all connected by a central indoor space containing community activities known as the Hangar.
Preliminary designs are being funded by a $70 million park bond measure. According to the city, the winning team will be chosen by November 18. Videos of the finalists’ schemes can be found here. More images of the schemes can be seen below.