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February 03, 2011

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I drive past Stapleton several days a week on my way to work at the fire station. It's nice -- the homes are somewhat appealing and definitely a far cry from the sea of stucco and tile roofs that defines Metro Phoenix living -- but it's nothing special. At first glance, you think, "Wow, this is neat. These homes are really special." Then, after you've driven past the redevelopment several times, you start to realize that it's nothing more than cookie-cutter homes disguised as colorful bungalows. And man, are they close together.
I don't have a problem with living close to my neighbors. I lived in Boston for five years before moving to Denver, so I know what dense living is all about. Stapleton is just starting to remind me too much of the "crapola" subdivisions that Jon mentions in many of his columns.

Chris, I share your disappointment with Stapleton. It's odd, too, given that Denver already has the templates for great urban neighborhoods extant. No need to dream, here. But it's a sign of our economy's capture by real-estate interests that aside from a few nods to New Urbanist theory, Stapleton is mostly the same old crapola. Of course, Denver's old neighborhoods were built by craftsmen with solid materials. Production housing today is mostly assembly work from components made in China - vinyl, sheetrock, and plastic.

Denver has given up a king's ransom in stunning old buildings. What Phoenix lost was minor by comparison. But Phoenix didn't have much to begin with. By contrast, Denver could afford to be reckless with its amazing inheritance. Denver is not more virtuous than Phoenix. It's luckier.

Phoenix seems to lose all these city-to-city comparisons for reasons that have more to do with the unavoidable facts of its own history than our own incompetence. But, suppose we could foresee the future in 1950? What could we have done to avoid the wreckage of 2011? I ask that question with a heavy sigh because I know that even a crystal ball would have smashed by real-estate interests. You don't argue with destiny, particularly when it's wrapped in dollar signs.

But suppose we mastered our own overweening greed and guided growth instead of letting growth master us. Suppose our stewards were not just bankers but visionaries. Here's my list:

1) Growth boundaries established by 1955. No Sun City, Surprise, Fountain Hills, north Scottsdale, Ahwatukee, or Mesa/Chandler/Buckeye/Goodyear/Avondale aside from their agricultural and industrial roots. Sunnyslope: its own town.

2) One downtown. No Central Avenue corridor "plan". No "village plan". No endless "rezoning of the city to accommodate anything a developer wants to do" plan.

3. Historic building protection ordinance enacted by 1950. Obviously, not every building can be saved. We save the best and work with City Beautiful principles to keep new buildings from destroying the streetscapes of the old city.

4. Agriculture maintained as a strong component of the metropolitan area. At least 50% of citrus and date groves must be preserved.

5. Tourist economy oriented not to Republican "sports" like golf and suntanning, but to the appreciation of Earth's most enchanting ecosystem, the Sonoran desert.

6. No CAP.

7. No philistine boosterism that confuses size with quality.

8. Mass transit fully supported, including street car lines, light rail to the airport and the suburbs, and heavy rail to the rest of the country. No urban freeways.

9. No tax code incentivizing speculation and city-destroying tear-downs.

10. Rio Salado plan that moves the sand-and-rock operations elsewhere, provides riparian habitat and wildlife refuges, and keeps a steady downstream flow year round.


I know what I'm asking here is that Phoenix's history be Portland's. Nothing lasts forever and Phoenix's mythic name suggests something less destined for longevity than spectacular growth and decay. Even at this point, few seem to get the problem. Phoenix is unsustainable. It's a monster that is devouring its own habitat. It's ugly, mean, and gargantuan.

We will do everything we can to deny our limits. That's the nature of clever mammals who are ordained by their own evolution to think of escape clauses to biological destiny. Phoenix is an horrendous mistake that can correct itself only through its inevitable decline

Excellent list, soleri. Please allow me an addendum:

11. A system of rational electric utility rate schedules, and the elimination of schemes that hide the real costs of energy (and water) in Arizona.

The existing rate system allowed an ocean of shabby boxes to appear to be affordably maintainable for a brief time, and made Arizona's citizens into profligate consumers of energy.

Wow, soleri, that is quite a list.

There was a time when your list existed. It was called the time of the Hohokam.

They lived here in harmony with nature for a thousand years.

I believe during that same time period, Brewer's and Pearce's ancestors were still deciding whether or not to climb out of their trees.

Rate Crimes, thanks for that reminder. My list comes from a "what if" scenario that imagines human beings, their social ecology, post-war history, and the nature of power itself to be starkly different than what they are. Couple actual reality with cheap energy (subsidized, of course, but heavily disguised in that) and the road to hell become a 12-lane expressway.

Now there's the beat comment I have seen in a long time. Right to my point of view whether it's stimulus or phoenix.
Per Soleri "Phoenix is an horrendous mistake that can correct itself only through its inevitable decline." Reads like The Last Cowboy" by Ed Abbey.
Cal Lash and his dog Spot out thar on their Recumbent

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Stapleton is perfect, but it's something, on land that would have been left empty for decades/forever following the Phoenix model. And while Denver was lucky, it also had real stewards that loved the city itself, could deploy capital to help it, and Denver had developers early on, such as Dana Crawford, who understood urban, as well as the economy to populate them with businesses. Former Mayor (now Gov.) John Hickenlooper wasn't a real estate lawyer, developer, Realtor, whatever, as would be the case in Phoenix. He built a brewpub in LoDo (I used to drink there and talk to him), reusing a historic building. In any event, as I've written, city comparisons are highly inexact because central Phoenix -- really all of Phoenix -- faces a unique set of problems and challenges among major cities (not Fresno). But we can seek out best practices and see how they might be applied.

Somewhat off topic, but Phoenix is enduring an epic cold spell along with most of the nation. I'm looking out the window at plants that usually shake off frosts with just a few minor blemishes. Not this time. I've never seen this kind of damage before. It's almost 11am and the temperature is 34F.

I know the distinction between climate and weather. You can't link individual weather events to climate. But this is the first winter I can recall where there have been two hard-freeze events. Last winter, we had a storm that took out a mesquite tree in my front yard, a tree that survived everything monsoon storms could throw at it.

Al Gore is noting (to the glee of aggressively idiotic right-wingers) that there probably is linkage between these superstorms and global warming. The atmosphere contains 4% more moisture than in 1970. That means more atmospheric turbulence, and more extreme weather events.

If you took a poll, a majority of Arizonans would scoff at global warming. Likewise, all we need to do in order to keep growing is kick out all the Mexicans, keep cutting taxes, and sell off state assets like parks and buildings. There's no recovery for a state this stupid.

I am at least as much concerned about what lies below downtown Phoenix as I am about the lies at the surface . . .

http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/waste/sps/images/phxcentral.pdf

From the information sheet (April 2010) for the West Central Phoenix North Canal Plume:

"Due to current budget constraints, all work at the site has been temporarily suspended. ADEQ plans to continue groundwater sampling and monitoring when funding is made available."

The Rogue says above, "the health of downtown Phoenix remains the core issue of the future for city, metro and state."

Perhaps the word "core" inspired my thought. In any event, if health is the central (or Central Avenue) issue, then the future of downtown Phoenix is bleak indeed.

I have the rest of the week off and just arrived at my parent's house. Following up on Soleri's post: Ooops, I should have been here last night to cover her vulnerable landscaping. I've just ensured she would be gone for a couple of weeks. Now, where's her gardener's number and my checkbook.

One reason that the jet-stream has dipped so low, freezing Central Phoenix overnight with temps in the 20's is that warmer ocean temps in the Arctic is allowing cold air to plummet south. This theory is new but it is a repeatable climate model. To the right-wingers, it's just confirmation that Global Warming is a hoax.

Back to Downtown; Jon, I read recently that Union Station could, and is likely to be the hub of a future commuter rail/high speed rail "terminal".

I know station and terminal aren't exactly interchangeable but somehow it makes sense in our modern world. This article is about how ADOT's new study connecting Tucson to Phoenix would hurt Tucson's airport. It is an interesting read. I'll keep searching for the Union Station piece in a bit.
http://www.azbiz.com/articles/2011/01/28/news/doc4d41daa5938a4675793532.txt

Union Station would need to be renovated and enlarged. This will be a battle with architects as they will no doubt want to slap some glass and faux brick on the thing. Downtown communities and residents will continue to battle City Hall regarding design aesthetics for new and renovated buildings. So far, having ASU correct its mistakes has been easy; but I fear that private developers/individuals/government entities will be a bitch.

I'll just throw out a few more dreams for downtown (Jon and Soleri have done the lion's share of that job). The remaining Soviet-chic inspired remnants in downtown will be torn down (Symphony Hall and the South Plaza of the Convention Center). For some reason, Stalinist architecture seems to harshly contrast with the nice modern lines and green vines planted along the light rail station that buttress the hall.

While the gardens and southwest corner of the Arizona Center are the only nicely planned area of the place, the blank walls along Fillmore and 3rd Street will be retrofitted. The retrofit will create entrances to the stores in the AZ Center from the street. The smallish side walks along 3rd and Fillmore Streets will be made wider.

My last idea for this post deals with parking. Any new building, big or small, will be void of any type of parking arrangement; no underground garage, no inclusive-above-grade garage, and no "temporary" parking lot on an adjoining vacant dirt lot.

Rate Crimes, I'm not exactly knowledgable when it comes to Super Fund sites, but if I understand the map correctly, the North Canal plume is miles from downtown Phoenix. The West Phoenix (Van Buren plume is another story).

You've piqued my interest on this topic. I wonder what issues are being evaluated and what type of water quality improvements are needed. These plumes exist in areas where, historically, old industrial and highly polluting entities exist/once existed.

Follow up: Set up an emergency gardener visit and walking to light rail station for a trip to a lunch spot and it is still in the high 30's in Central Phoenix (at 12:30 pm)!

I'll add to Jon and Soleri's list with a few more wishes:

1. Replicate the Tres Rios wastewater treatment process to create a Riperian zone stretching from Town lake to Tres Rios complete with walking trails, water features, bike paths and a more traditional park system above the banks – creating a truly World Class urban park system. (Thank you Ed Pastor for a small step in this direction with the Rio Salado project)

2. Create Canal-Living urban neighborhoods along key stretches of the canal system – with an Amsterdam building scale.

3. Enact a law prohibiting development on any portion of a mountain reserve steeper than 10% slope.

4. A higher property tax and a lower corporate tax rate.

5. Eliminate the current fuel tax and simply tax gasoline at the regular sales tax rate(along with real estate sales) in order to fund a 200 mile light rail system (additional segments on 44th St., 24th St., Thomas, South Central, Grand, Broadway, Southern and 51st Ave (Cubs play in Maryvale and Brewers in Mesa) – scrap the extension to PV Mall - complete by 2020.

6. Guaranteed sales price of net-metered solar energy modeled off German laws.

I have about 40 more, but I’ll leave it there for now.

RE the weather. Soleri has a somewhat longer memory than me, but the Salt River Valley used to have several hard frosts every winter. We had aircraft propeller engines mounted on poles in the groves to protect the citrus. This is why mosquitoes were not a problem. The last really cold Phx winter I recall was in the early 1970s, maybe 72-73. That said, climate change is real and the microburst that devastated Encanto Park is unprecedented. So get ready for more extremes, especially with heat.

azrebel I really do own a lawn chair with two wheels as I fell off my mountain bike technical riding at South Mountain in 2000 at the age of 60. My 19 year old Dog Pepper works undercover as Spot ferreting out lizards. I got to Sunnyslope in 50
About 3 years ago I sold it all, the big home on the mountain, etc and moved Spot and I into my mobile office and moved to the high desert near Sierra Vista and Mexico. A friend of mine lives near the Urban Bean Coffee shop near 7th Street and Osborn. Currently I am back in town working a few homicides for some attorneys and spot and I hold up in my motor home at the Farm at South Mountain. I have been a Malthus population fan since 58.
Enough with da history. I am off for a cup.

Greg Stanton, candidate for Phx Mayor, told me last night that Prop. 207 makes a tax on land banking pretty much impossible. Is he wrong?


http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Arizona_Proposition_207,_Arizona_Homeowners_Protection_Effort_(2006)

Boor, it all but makes downzoning impossible. And Land banking almost always occurs when the speculator already has the optimal zoning for the biggest return on investment.

207 does not speak to tax law - just eminent domain and land use regulations.

Downzoning is mostly impossible with 207. Technically, the City would be forced to pay the property owner on the difference in value of, say, a 4 story (new zoning) and 30 story building (old zoning) unless the original rezoning case had a time stipulation (allowing for a reconsideration of the case if nothing had been built) or if the rezoning case waived prop 207 rights (as most all have done since its passage)

I think the solution to the land speculation problem ultimately lies in either an increase in property taxes or a reform of the assessment methodology to weight proposed uses heavier than current uses.

Recently listened to a session on the science behind climate change, given by an atmospheric science prof from Oregon State . . at a church luncheon of all places. When he said that the Oregon Pinot crop will be at risk as the state's temps warm, he got most everybody's attention. Wish the AZ media would do a little teaching on this subject because it will have such a cosmic effect on our state. Republic basically leaves it mostly to Shaun McKinnon while others contemplate their navel as they flog the issues of the moment.

I think I missed something rather obvious in my list above. It's the state capitol and the entire misery of that governmental office park on west Washington St. The original capitol building is woefully unimposing although handsome enough as a public building.

In 1957, Frank Lloyd Wright presented a design for a new capitol building for Papago Park. It would have cost $5 million, which is probably around $65 million in 2011 dollars. http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/interact/watch/past-exhibition-videos/arizona-state-capital-student-animation

Now, there is a problem here. Instead of the state capitol being in or near downtown, it would have been six miles east. But imagine Arizona with this state capitol, an instant international attraction versus what we have today. Moreover, it would have set a tone for design and architecture that could have spilled over to other parts of our built environment.

So, I'll add this to the list above: a world-class capital complex, artfully nestled near the Papago buttes.

Jon, about the weather. Some more background on this cold weather extreme for Phoenix is that this is the first ever recorded "Hard Freeze Warning" issued for Phoenix.

There are now three levels of winter cold snap warnings without precipitation. They are: frost, freeze, and a hard freeze warning.

This is the second hard freeze warning issue for Phoenix this winter and the last two days have broken more records by being the coldest day-time highs.

Soleri, I love much of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, but that building for the State Capitol...not so much. However, imagine that building in place of Los Olivos Car Wash and the hotel.

It would be an extension of the Phoenix Art Museum or anther museum that could serve as a "triple crown" to the area's art portfolio with Heard at Encanto and Central, PAM at McDowell and Central, and the Wright inspired museum stretching east of PAM on McDowell.

As for the Capitol Building, I wonder if those ugly modern side buildings could be retrofitted to match the old Capitol building. The three structures would then be connected making an almost U.S. Capitol Building like structure.

Then the modern "hat box" building that rises over the capitol from behind can be domed to match the historic building and the outside also made to match the historic stone used in the original.

It is nice to dream; but it would be much more likely that a new museum be built in Phoenix rather than an impressive renovation of the Capitol given that the state does not technically own it; stupid Republicans! OR, would that make it easier to renovate since the State doesn't own it???

Oh, and as for reconnecting the Capitol Mall complex to downtown, we reinstall the track that was taking out of the road for a new street car on Jefferson and Washington.

More on the weather; there is another issuance of a hard freeze warning for Phoenix. Thousands of people are out of gas to heat their homes due to ruptured gas lines because of freezing ground conditions that have unsettled the pipes.

phxSUNSfan: the light rail extension into west phoenix will run along Jefferson and connect the State Capitol with Downtown. I have to agree, the capitol complex is largely an abomination.

I was reminded of this and the "luck" of Denver when watching a snowboarding Big Air jump competition/rock concert on TV the other day. They held it in downtown Denver at night with a dramatic backdrop of a stunning, uplit neoclassical state capitol building.

I am aware of preliminary plans to run the West Phoenix extension of the light rail line past the State Capitol and over I-17. There has been an outpouring of hostility towards this alignment however, by the home owners of the neighborhoods around the Capitol.

Instead these Capitol Mall area residents want the city to run the trains up 7th or 15th Ave to I-10 and then on to 79th Ave. A huge mistake. If there was ever a time to ignore a largely working class/lower class, Hispanic neighborhood's outcry it would be now and for this transit issue.

A transit option of this type past this neighborhood would make mobility for them much easier. It would also offer them alternatives to driving, which I'm sure many can ill afford at present, and would offer superior service compared to whatever bus route traverses their neighborhood today.

If we're going to do the capitol area, I don't want to be left out.

The destruction of the irreplaceable (sad, considering our supposed capacities as an exceptional nation) buildings west of 7th Ave. and south of Van Buren is one of the greatest acts of civic malpractice in Phoenix history. Oh, to have those adobes, Victorians, bungalows, brick apartments with sleeping porches, old trees and street-front businesses as the foundations of a reborn Capitol Mall! And LRT or a trolley is essential to connect it to downtown.

The state capitol building was actually built as the territorial capitol. So deep was the antipathy to spending tax dollars in a relatively poor, unpopulated frontier state, that it stayed. Lord, even West Virginia, Arkansas and Mississippi have grand capitols by comparison.

Frank Lloyd Wright, like Le Corbusier but with more talent (as Gammage attests), was a product of the auto age and the precursor of the "brutalist" styles to come. His Arizona capitol in Papago Park would have been a disaster all around. One can imagine being fried by the sun coming through his skylights, or the bland bureaucracies that would have been built nearby, bulldozing the topography in the process. Sometimes classical is good, and Phoenix would have benefited from one, downtown or near the old capitol, or at least an art deco building (but we never had a Huey Long). Also, some real statues, not just modernist stuff.

The area between the capitol and downtown is one of the most tragic opportunities. Yet it could be great, if only a way could be found to make the land productive. As it stands, the only way to avoid embarrassment at the centennial is to plant orange groves from 7th to the AG's building. Oh, and please restore grass to the Pioneer Cemetery — the current dirt status is dreadful. A Boot Hill of what the state thinks of itself and its past.

Jon, I was thinking the same about Wright's plan for the Capitol in Papago. It would devastate the park, zoo, Botanical Gardens, and nature trails.

As for my idea to make it a museum near Central Ave, I figured that with modern technology and foresight (LOL), designers would realize the need for a type of canvass roofing/shading under the windows. Think of the fabric that covers Chase Field or University of Phoenix Stadium. Perhaps a patchwork of canvas roofing with solar paneling?

As for the Centennial Celebration, Ms. Copeland's piece in the Republic hinted to state, city, and business plans to "replant" the mall complex from downtown to the Capitol Building with trees, grass, and other plants. There is plenty of dirt to plant over, that's for sure.

I haven't studied the remnants of one story buildings leading to the capitol, but from glimpses I've taken, these little places were intricately designed. Too bad that passion and care escapes architects and owners of today's edifices, storefronts, and restaurants.

Speaking of amazingly designed buildings and homes; the Willo Home Tour will be held February 13. http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/coolhomes/articles/2011/02/03/20110203willo-home-tour-tudor-angela-mark-meury.html

Imagine if homes today were designed with such variety and detail. Even with modern materials, builders should be able to create some great angles instead of stucco boxes.

I must stop thinking now and go cover the plants! It is already 38°.

Francisco, I threw out the Wright design not as something to do in real time but as a counterfactual to known history. As such, I don't think there's any point to resurrecting the design as a museum. Late Wright designs tend to be fussily detailed and not the core reason for remembering our local genius. Wright's last commission, Grady Gammage Auditorium was originally designed as the Grand Opera of Baghdad. http://books.google.com/books?id=MTI17Q5Tok0C&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=grand+opera+of+baghdad&source=bl&ots=HzEq5wrCkK&sig=7rtv4a9waXzWxhcuqq_6zZNM55A&hl=en&ei=S_9LTZb_HIessAOGwMjbCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBkQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=grand%20opera%20of%20baghdad&f=false When the coup against the Hashemites took place in 1958, the commission lay fallow until it was dusted off for ASU. Like so much of late Wright, the fantasy aspects lay somewhere between sci-fi and cringe-inducing. In the Baghdad-specific design, there was a spire in the center of the roof, rising from a spidery web. On one side of a building was another spire, almost like a minaret. Imagine local heavy breathers driving by that!

I agree that Papago Park could have been siginficantly damaged by all of this. OTOH, had the capital been placed where the SRP headquarters are, or where Giants stadium is located, the damage could have been minimized. And I agree with Jon that the additional state buildings would likely have been net negatives. Still, for the sake of sheer counterfactual pleasure, imagine a state inspired to preserve both its artistic and natural legacies.

Papago Park came under intense pressure just at this time. A legatee to the Maytag fortune announced plans for a zoo, and a theme park, Legend City, was also proposed at this time. Also, the local Phoenix Giants minor-league baseball was planning a move here. And let's not forget the golf course, the best of the city courses, was part of this mix. I can remember local curmudgeon Reg Manning penning a Republic cartoon in disgust at the idea of stately saguaros being felled for all this.

Wright was a great visionary who spawned his own tribe of crackpot geniuses like Soleri (the artist/architect, not the blowhard). Arizona's design history divides from homespun to futuristic in the 1950s before settling into the below-grade freeway of Southwest Mediocre.

Rate Crimes and phsSUNSfan, the bottom line of Arizona's federal and state Superfund sites is generally this:

Many of our Supefund sites are large areas of groundwater contamination caused by historic industrial operations. That groundwater contamination will need to be remediated (at least at the point of use) prior to use. The City of Phoenix water management plans call for impacted groundwater ultimately to be put to use, but not for several decades. Most of the Phoenix supply today comes from either surface water or other areas of the aquifer not impacted or threatened by these past operations. So, there's no particular emergency, but over time someone (either industry or the taxpayers) will need to bear the treatment costs. Nobody is drinking contaminated ground water, and nobody will in the future. The issue is who will bear the treatment costs in the future as those impacted supplies are put to use. A related issue is whether that cleanup occurs in the aquifer itself (in situ, as they say) or after extraction for beneficial use. The former is much more expensive than the latter.

Arizona's Superfund sites are a mix of sites listed by EPA on the National Priorities List (which sites receive federal enforcement attention) and sites listed by ADEQ under the Arizona equivalent, the Water Quality Assurance revolving Fund (WQARF). Federal sites are generally more impaired than are state sites.

ADEQ's funding has been decimated over the last several years in general, and the WQARF program in particular has suffered repeated fund sweeps. That has left ADEQ largely unable to fund remedial investigation and feasilibilty study work at WQARF sites. That's a paricular problem under WQARF, as Arizona amended its WQARF law in 1994 to eliminate joint liability, in favor of several (fair share) liability. Public funds are supposed to pay for orphan shares, or shares or absent or insolvent parties. (The federal act generally calls for joint liability, requiring standing liable parties to pay for the costs of those long gone). Right now ADEQ lacks funds for doing that. So, the WQARF program is badly underfunded and having trouble making progress. With respect to groundwater supplies, again, that's a long-term problem, but not a current emergency. If there were an emergency, EPA would step in and enforce under the federal scheme. Neither ADEQ nor business wants that.

EPA continues fairly aggressive enforcement of federal sites in Arizona. In metro Phoenix, the most prominent of those is the Motorola 52nd Street site. That's a plume of TCE-impacted groundwater that starts at 52nd and McDowell and migrates straight west until at least 7th Avenue, and perhaps much further west. Motorola installed a contaiment system at its property boundary years ago. Motorola and Honeywell also have been treating impacted groundwater at a second plant near 20th Street for another 15 years or so. EPA is looking at a possible third operable unit, perhaps near 7th Avenue. There has been no slow down in work on federal sites. The 52nd Street site is the one that has the most impact on groundwater in the downtown area.

If you want to be depressed about the state of Arizona's natural resource regulatory schemes, I'd focus on the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the State Land Department instead. Both have suffered catastrophic budget cuts that threaten immediate negative consequences. ADWR lacks the resources to enforce our water supply laws, and the Land Department budget makes it difficult to plan for ssale and deveopment of state trust lands. Both of those problems are more acute than the issue of state Superfund sites' current stalled progress.

One last thought: where's the strategic plan for downtown? There are some folks I know who are very capable of laying the framework and facilitating a citizen-driven process that eventually jells on issues, opportunities and action plans. And they've worked in the government sector for years, doing whatever toe dance is required but getting impressive results. Is it my lack of knowledge, or are we inclined to dither around with a group of competing but toothless entities?

Thanks for the information CDT. I found some information but you summed up pages of reading nicely.

Soleri, I see your point now. It would still be cool to have an art gallery based on that Wright concept. It would be art in itself. Gammage Auditorium seems loosely based on a Wright Concept.

I could be wrong but if you placed it next to the Biltmore, Taliesen West, and the Guggenheim most poeple would probably not see Wright in the building; maybe it's the pink...

Jim, the City of Phoenix has a "Downtown Development Division" and a "Downtown Strategic Plan" in place. Maybe your friends can lend the city some help and make this plan more urban and quickly off to the races.

http://phoenix.gov/downtown/index.html

Regarding Downtown, the City is pretty much tapped out at this point. We've invested an enormous amount of money in projects, we're doing the best we can on the Biomedical Campus in the face of a hostile State legislature (and, now, an infiltrated City Council)and we've completed probably the best district plan ever done by the City - the Downtown Plan - and actually codified it by rezoning the entire 2 square mile area (phoenix.gov/urbanformproject)

At this point, it's up to the private sector - we've done pretty much all we can.

phxSUNSfan, you are aware that Gammage is a building whose outline is the same as the architectual template for a "water closet", are you not? Urban legend has it that it was a tongue in cheek joke by Mr. Wright. Look at it from the air using Google maps.

CDT, is there not a plume moving up Indian Bend in Scottsdale from the Motorola Hayden plant?

Per Jared Diamond the earth was okay until the grazers were replaced by the engineering agriculture planners. According to Charles Bowden early "native" americans grew and harvested edibles with out digging holes. But given man's quest to become one with the gods, the engineers just keep digging a bigger hole in the planet. I appreciate U all's redesign of the desert but I prefer my desert with out the edifices of minor gods.
Cal and his dog spot rolling along on their mountain bike.

Cal, I think we're all dealing with this grief the best we know how. I wish my own process were more fruitful. One day I'm angry, the next day resigned, and sometimes I get close to acceptance but it always slips away.

We talk about this place because it's home and on some level we can see it falling apart. What will we do? What about our tribe? Bargaining is the madness we thought we could escape by asking different questions. Like, wouldn't Phoenix have been great if.....?

Buddha said "if I don't descend into hell, who will?" I'm not worthy of that kindness or yours or anyone else here but I appreciate the journey we're making on this site. There's just enough madness to make it divine.

Suns Fan: thanks for the Phx. Strat plan website. Sorry I didn't know it existed because it might have helped frame this discussion. Gives rise to questions about why no summary, who drives it and who sets, publicizes and monitors annual benchmarks. Having dealt with strategic plans over a 40 year period, it became apparent that the best ones asked and answered Three fundamental questions:
1) Where are we now?
2) Where do we want to be? (and when)
3) How are we going to get there?

Without belaboring the point, this one comes across as a "shelf document" destined to look nice in the filing cabinet or the resume. In the interest of fairness, what am I missing?

azrebel, that's the North Indian Bend Wash federal Superfund site. All of Arizona's state and federal Superfund sites are described on the ADEQ web site here:

http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/waste/sps/phx.html

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