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Gammage Parkway Power Parasol
By Millie Evidente and Brett Anderson, ASLA, AndersonBaron


AndersonBaron designed the pedestrian walkway on Gammage Parkway at Arizona State University in Tempe. The running bond pattern of "Mesa buff" and "antique brown" colored 4" x 16" Acker-Stone linear pavers represent the chord progression of the school's "Alma Mater" song. The existing irregular curbing on the parkway was to be preserved; to do so, an engineered joint sand was used for the pavers. The design for the 37,000 square foot project began in June 2013, with the plans approved in May 2014 and final construction approval in September 2014.

The ASU Gammage Parkway project is located on the north side of Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium under the newly established Power Parasol project at Arizona State University in Tempe. The Power Parasol is an elegant design that generates electricity for the university through solar panels, provides much needed shade, and filters through enough sunlight to sustain plant life.

The project required the establishment of a new pedestrian walkway and seating areas within the 40' wide median from Mill Avenue to South Forest Avenue. This space was a unique opportunity to develop a new urban environment that would marry the newly constructed Power Parasol to an urban park, thereby offering a variety of uses for events and culture, flexible programming, and wayfinding opportunities. This plaza was designed for soft programming opportunities, from weekly farmers markets to outdoor rehearsal locations for bands.



At either end of the parkway, concrete pots were placed as bookends to dissuade automobile traffic from driving through the pedestrian walkway. The pots were planted with native desert plants and irrigated with reservoirs inside instead of traditional drip irrigation. This system, requested by the university, allows the pots to be relocated if necessary.

Prior to the construction of the Student Services building in the late 1980s, Gammage Parkway served as the main entry into the campus. With this prominent location, several fundamental goals were undertaken at the onset of the project: to re-establish the grandeur of the parkway; to create a place of memory for current and future students; to establish a platform for the performing arts from the Herberger Institute; and to create a botanical walk focusing on native and regional plant materials that are adapted to shade conditions.

The concept was derived while on a site visit with ASU's Byron Sampson, ASLA, associate director with the office of the university architect. While walking beneath the solar panels of the Power Parasol, it was noticed how quiet the site had become. On the north side, a group of students was rehearsing musical instruments underneath the west rotunda of the Music Building. From this experience, the concept of developing a space based upon the ASU Alma Mater was born. The paving patterns were inspired by the chords of the song. The walkway alternates Acker-Stone's 4" x 16" linear "Mesa buff" colored pavers with "antique brown" colored pavers in a running bond pattern that represents the notes.



The center of the project has a concrete vehicular turnaround called a "road table." Vehicles can safely turn around here without interrupting the flow of pedestrian circulation. The road table was made level with the parkway to give pedestrians and bicyclists a safe, uninterrupted surface to continue down the pathway.

Proceeding from Mill Avenue going east through the plaza, planting patterns accentuate the chord progressions in the pavers. Furthering the concept, the words of ASU's "Alma Mater" song are set prominently within the paving around pedestrian gathering areas in stainless steel lettering. The success and comfort of the project can be felt within any of the plaza spaces, but can be best experienced by the procession of the entire walk ending with the crescendo of the final words of Alma Mater: "Arizona State."

Special consideration was given to preserve the curbing of Gammage Parkway and integrate it into the new design. To do this, AndersonBaron specified an engineered joint sand instead of traditional caulking for the pavers to maintain the existing irregularity of the curbs.



The lyrics of ASU's school song "Alma Mater" are set in stainless steel lettering at pedestrian gathering spots along the path. The phrase here is "Praying Strength For Brave Tomorrows." Planters with more native desert plants were strategically placed within the 40' wide median to further emphasize the gathering spots.

Concrete pots are placed throughout the project, with the intention of them acting as bookends to dissuade any automobile traffic from driving through the plaza. The pots were designed with reservoirs inside, instead of traditional drip irrigation. This was at the request of Arizona State University, as they wanted the pots to remain semi-portable to be moved or relocated, if needed.

The automobile turnaround in the center of the plaza is a concrete "road table" raised to meet the elevation of the plaza's curbs. This allows vehicles to use the turnaround without interrupting or impeding the flow of pedestrian circulation. The space safely and comfortably accommodates pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicular access.

Owner: Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
Developer: Strategic Solar Energy LLC, Chandler, Ariz.
Landscape Architect: AndersonBaron, Chandler, Ariz.
Architect: DeBartolo Architects, Phoenix
Civil: Hoskin Ryan Consultants, Phoenix/ Larson Engineering Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.
Electrical: Taylor Rymar Corp, Tempe, Ariz.
Structural: Rudow + Berry, Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.

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November 13, 2019, 8:28 pm PDT

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