Central Idea

The Central Idea prompts a redefinition of street, park, museum, university, event, city, and community for the context of an arid environment. Positioned along a 1.5-mile course of Central Avenue, the essential spine of Phoenix, the project seeks to capitalize on the latent potential of Central Avenue, our fundamental organizing boulevard, to communicate our grandest ambitions in the most vivid manner.

Cities are frequently distinguished by a singular location that captures the grandest aspirations of their citizenry and demonstrates the ethos of the place. The Highline in New York and Millennium Park in Chicago are but two recent examples of civic space that have come to embody the identity of these cities.

The many benefits of a dense, networked, and culturally vibrant urban core are well documented. An engaging, walkable boulevard can be a signature feature of such intentional planning. By deliberately concentrating meaningful investments—public, corporate, and philanthropic—this singular spine can provide an authoritative narrative tailored to this place, and become a center of gravity for a region asserting itself on the national stage.

In the process, we imagine the emergence of an extraordinary urban vernacular which is responsive to our climate, an elevated role for arts and culture, and a population fully representative of our diverse heritage. It further builds on the unprecedented and successful relationship between the City of Phoenix and ASU which established the Downtown Phoenix campus in 2006.

Since 2015, numerous meetings and conversations have occurred among groups of key stakeholders, each session advancing the next. These conversations have culminated in the first stage of necessary research, funded in equal parts by the Arizona Community Foundation, Flinn Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. The resulting concept book and economic impact study, we hope, will serve as tools in shaping a cohesive effort shared among ASU and other key organizations in the heart of our city.