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To counteract a decline in downtown activity, the City of Phoenix, Arizona recently invested in prominent civic institutions: the Phoenix Civic Plaza (including Convention Center and Symphony Hall), the Herberger Performing Arts Theater, the America West Arena hosting "The Phoenix Suns" basketball team. Heritage Square, a History Museum, a Science Museum, and a new City Hall, to name a few, and was planning a new Downtown Baseball Stadium (currently under construction). The City also encouraged new commercial and tourist developments such as the Mercado and the highly popular Arizona Center. But while vibrant downtown street life began to develop in neighboring Scottsdale and Tempe, outside of civic events, the downtown Phoenix scene remained underpeopled. In 1993, a public-private consortium of downtown retailers, employers, institutions, and the City government called The Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Inc. sponsored a "Downtown Strategic Visioning Program," a series of workshops to discuss problems and suggest improvements for downtown. At the conclusion of the public outreach process, a project area was defined on three connected street corridors -- the north-south corridor of Second Street, bordering the Civic Plaza with its performance theaters and terminating at the America West Arena, and the two adjacent east-west, one-way corridors of Adams and Monroe Streets, which link the City Hall and important office highrises on the west side of downtown, major hotels in the center, and the cultural and tourist institutions on the east side. Freedman Tung & Bottomley, who were originally brought into the project during the Visioning Process to assist the public participants in understanding the process, were called upon to prepare a design that would meet the conceptual challenge: to arrest flight to the suburbs and also to attract people downtown, during the day and especially at night. On all three redesigned streets, vertical elements - light columns, palm trees, and shade trees- were set in curbed islands centered within the parking lanes and outside of the curb. The regular spacing and cadences of these verticals create a sense of order to contrast pleasingly with the architectural variety of the surrounding buildings. Indeed, architectural shape, orientation, and placement of street components and furnishings became the prevailing strategy to change drivers' and pedestrians' perceptions - and use - of each street without costly or impractical loss of space. Layering enlarged pedestrian territories with spacing of lighting and furnishings creates a pedestrian-primary street environment that tames the car's dominance of urban environments with traffic calming elements. In Phoenix's new downtown streetscape, not only does no one device or solution operate independently, but every element fulfils several purposes. According to Greg Tung, urban designer with Freedman, Tung & Bottomley: "A precious downtown space like a parking lane and ubiquitous objects like vertical lights and street trees must play multiple roles for urban liveability." For instance, uplighting of the street trees, which might be considered a purely aesthetic choice in some situations, was implemented to improve personal security, traffic safety, and attractiveness after dark in downtown Phoenix. In an era where perceived lack of urban security is hut one of a number of deterrents to the public's willingness to be downtown, street light illumination is an important means of making public spaces safe, attractive and inviting, not merely visible and navigable. Ideally, downtown streetlighting makes not only objects, but people's faces and clothing accurately recognizable at night, distinguishable by color as well as by shape, so as to help people overcome a natural human fear of darkness. With average 5 foot candle lighting levels and 3200K soft white color metal halide lamps, streetlight illumination dramatically improved in quantity and quality. In addition, street trees were uplit, improving personal security, traffic safety, and attractiveness after sunset. The column lights, events kiosks, and streetlights were designed to pay homage to important influences on the district and region - the "Pueblo Deco" of the 1930's downtown skyscrapers, the Arizona sandstone of the historic Courthouse Building and the new City Hall, the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright (Taliesin West is in Scottdale, only a few miles away), the roof form of the Arena, and the modern office buildings. For instance, in the events kiosks and matching light colonnades designed by Greg Tung and fabricated by Sentry Electric, "Pueblo Deco" meets "Taliesin West." Inspired by the colors of the desert they reflect, the light colonnades on Second Street are purple, and infuse the public environment of the downtown district with brilliant doses of "vitality." LASN COLUMN LIGHTS, EVENT KIOSKS, AND STREET LIGHTS--LIKE THIS BANNER POLE LIGHT (ABOVE) -- PAY HOMAGE TO HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURAL IMAGES ON THE CITY OF PHOENIX. STREET TREES WERE UPLIT (TOP) FOR SECURITY, TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ATTRACTIVENESS. THE LAYERING OF PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY CUES--SPACING OF STREET LIGHTING AND FURNISHINGS, SMALLER CORNER CURB RADII, AND ENLARGED PEDESTRIAN TERRITORIES--INVITES LIFE BACK ONTO THE STREETS OF PHOENIX, ARIZONA. Photos courtesy of Freedman Tung & Bottomley A TWILIGHT VIEW OF SECOND STREET ILLUSTRATES ITS NEW COLLONADES OF MONUMENTAL LIGHT COLUMNS THAT DIFFERENTIATE IT AS A CENTRAL PUBLIC PLACE.

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June 27, 2019, 2:04 am PDT

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