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Tempe Urban Open Space Plan
Hayden Butte, one of Tempe's most prominent downtown open spaces, was one of the many places studied, with recommendations for enhancing it as a special place better connected to the main shopping street.

Tempe Urban Open Space Plan


A city is largely judged by its sense of place, social atmosphere, and quality of life elements that can be hard to define. People want to live or work in a place that is pleasant, distinctive, stimulating, attractive and safe. Tempe, Arizona is such a downtown, yet there is a need for more active downtown parks and sidewalks, destinations along Town Lake, and guidelines for new development to foster street life. Downtown also needs to be better connected, with a greater emphasis on walking and biking - a safe and engaging place that meets the demanding standard of young children and the elderly.

In 2006 and 2007 Project for Public Spaces, with PROS Consulting and Drake & Associates, worked with the City, its residents, and civic groups, to develop an Urban Open Space Plan for parks, plazas, and connection systems -- essentially a Placemaking Plan and Program for the whole downtown. The plan proposed improvements for more than 30 places that made up the fabric of the downtown experience.

The City's unprecedented growth has been an impetus for the plan -- the combined effect of a dozen downtown developments will define the City's physical form and social interaction for generations. The Plan was a chance to work with these developers to help ensure that they would contribute to an integrated network of lively, pedestrian-friendly streets, plazas and parks.

It was also important to create an activity program for downtown's spaces that would attract a spectrum of all ages and cultures. The study used demographic information and public process to build a program of uses suitable to each audience.

While the overall vision is to create a seamless system of destinations, other objectives included:

  • Enhancing sense of place, including Tempe's sense of heritage and authenticity.
  • Maximizing potential of existing destinations in the Mill Avenue District, on the lake shore, in the Papago region and on the ASU campus.
  • Creating new attractions/destinations for residents as well as visitors and workers.
  • Connecting destinations and helping the city meet its green goals by making it easier to get around without driving.
  • Matching the level of maintenance to the program of each space.
  • Sustaining economic growth and investment in the city.
  • Instilling a culture that makes Placemaking a routine consideration in Tempe's governing activities.

The plan includes an analysis of the economic, ecological, social/cultural and health benefits of open space, as well as a resource protection mission and action plan. Maintenance standards, as well as staffing requirements to implement the plan, were developed for each of the places included in the plan, along with funding and financing alternatives.

Project Client: 
The City of Tempe
Tempe Urban Open Space Plan
One aspect of the plan was to propose improvements for more than 30 places that made up the fabric of the downtown experience. A small sample is shown here.
Tempe Urban Open Space Plan
Tempe Urban Open Space Plan
Tempe Urban Open Space Plan
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Evalynn Rosado
COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space
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