Mesa Arts Center
Landscape Architect: Martha Schwartz Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States
The central idea of the design for this Mesa, Arizona site is to provide a grand promenade into and through the complex while providing opportunities for both large and small group gatherings, as well as places for quiet relaxation and enjoyment. The theme is a shadow walk: a place where the rich interplay of overlapping shadows, trees and architectural canopies creates a cool and inviting environment. Long, curving lines of trees shift back and forth as one walks along the promenade, throwing different shadow forms on the ground and creating different qualities and quantities of shadow. In addition to shadows thrown by vegetation, a series of colored glass canopies and raised glass screens casts colored shadows on the ground.
These colored glass structures serve a double purpose in that they are also the structure for cooling mist jets that spray down to the walkway from above. Translucent colored glass screen walls, back-lit by the afternoon sun, hold the shadows of cacti and other distinctly textured plants in silhouette.
Paralleling the shadow walk theme is a water story appropriate to the southwest: a boulder-filledarroyo runs along the western side of the shadow walk for its entire length. From time to time, a strong pulse of water rushes through the riverbed from north to south, recalling the flash floods characteristic of the region. A welcome side benefit of this exciting event is the cooling and humidifying effect of the water evaporating from the wet boulders in the interval between episodes.
Another motif running through the shadow walk is that of the banquet table. The colored glass forms used to catch light cast shade, and color shadows take the form of sculptural and symbolic tables and chairs. These forms are abstracted to create a poetic statement about people coming together in celebration, a perfect family-oriented image for the Mesa Arts and Entertainment Center and for the heart of the community.