Hance Park offers the City of Phoenix a unique opportunity to establish a vibrant civic space that will become a vital hub in downtown Phoenix. A great city deserves a great urban park, and the design for the New Hance Park enhances the civic space by establishing an identity uniquely Phoenix and expressive of its burgeoning culture. Hance Park will strive to serve as a catalyst for economic development, as an engine for social sustainability, and a model for ecological sustainability. The Hance Park master plan has resulted in a thoughtful design addressing connectivity and visibility with bold gestures, as well as livability and comfort through meticulous composition of microclimate and plant textures.
The shortfalls of the existing park, issues with connectivity and entry, have kept the park hidden from public consciousness through the years. Surplus parking at the perimeter has been removed and distinct entry thresholds established. The cumulative effect of this strategy extends the park toward the surrounding neighborhoods effectively creating a more welcoming and hospitable boundary along adjoining streetscapes.
In order to entice public use and encourage repeat visits there was a necessity to develop a unique identity for the park. The new design references the context of Phoenix by drawing inspiration from the local geographic and geologic features within the Valley of the Sun. Landforms, such as buttes and canyons, have been abstracted to create distinct spatial and programmatic moments. Furthermore, the massing and topography of the landforms reduce the scale of the park and provide comfort by defining “rooms in the park” and creating microclimate. Building upon the contextual identity the new park establishes three main zones, “the Valley,” “the Canyon,” and “the Plateau.” The overall design uses a vocabulary that evolves as one journeys through the park to create spaces that are both exciting and memorable. “The Valley,” situated nearest to downtown residences, is conceived as the neighborhood park with spacious and shady fields, rolling hills, areas for picnics and barbeques, places for children’s play and relaxing nooks for quiet respites. “The Canyon,” flanking Central Avenue, serves as the primary urban plaza with dramatic water features, areas dedicated to gastronomy and a direct connection to the public library. “The Plateau,” functions as the area for large events while also welcoming and integrating the adjacent Phoenix Center for the Arts into utilizing the park for expanded programming.
The park identity is further reinforced by iconic shade structures placed around the park and the iconic “Cloud” shade structure spanning over and across the Central Avenue bridge which bisects the park; and architectural feature that will mark the location of the park, currently hidden above the I-10, and below the Central Avenue bridge. These voluminous and dramatic sculptures act as visual beacons for the park as well as provide shade from the harsh desert sun.
In addition to the shade structures, Microclimate is also created by the comprehensive planting design that weaves through the park, highlighting the ephemeral characteristics of the curated botanic splendor. Native and adapted plant species have been carefully selected to frame corridors, produce fragrance, provide extra shade and to create intimacy. To reinforce the sustainability initiative, all of the plant material is irrigated by innovative recharge basins integrated into the park design. By using solar power, capturing irrigation run-off and using cutting edge irrigation technologies that will minimize water consumption Hance Park will serve as a sustainability model and new benchmark for large urban parks in arid climates.
The on-going success of this great public park is linked to each of these considerations: identity, sustainability, comfort, visibility and intimacy. With the added bonus of connecting to the existing cultural institutions on-site.