Designed with the twin goals of sustainability and preservation in mind, the 58-acre Desert Arroyo Park showcases its native desert upland and mountain surroundings through sensitive landscape architecture. The park’s careful landscape architecture design and site programming respect the natural setting, creating a dynamic relationship between the park’s natural and built elements.
Four educational nodes focus on Sonoran Desert bugs, birds, mammals, and reptiles. A fifth node provides a large gathering area and nature-themed play structure. WiFi access and an outdoor classroom encourage learning and exploration.
Located next to an elementary school, Desert Arroyo was developed with student input. Members of a student focus group had a chance to be landscape architecture designers. Each student designed their own playground and presented it to the Logan Simpson Design team. Students walked the park site with designers to get a sense of how their designs might look in place. They even had their handprints set in concrete during construction. As a result of this involvement, students developed a strong sense of pride in the park. The City of Mesa’s commitment to sustainability and preservation guided the Desert Arroyo Park’s development. The landscape architecture design dedicates 70 percent of the site to preserving the natural landscape. Logan Simpson’s landscape architecture design team performed extensive site analyses at the Desert Arroyo Park site to catalogue specimen plant life, areas of high animal concentration, and locations that offered the greatest opportunities for learning. Trails optimized views and allowed existing saguaro and barrel cacti and desert trees to be left in place. Natural washes that collect rainfall and provide wildlife corridors were preserved and enhanced.
Green infrastructure techniques were used to support natural vegetation and habitats. One of these techniques, low-impact development (LID), helps manage stormwater on site—helping make precious rainwater available to the park’s plants and animals. LID also helps reduce pollutants that would otherwise go into the city’s stormwater system. The project won the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association Outstanding Facility Award for Populations over 100,000; the Arizona Forward Crescordia Award for environmental excellence; and the American Society for Landscape Architecture Award of Excellence.
City of Mesa resources to help visitors enjoy the park include a Children’s Discovery Guide, a Flora Discovery Guide , and a Fauna Discovery Guide. More information is available on the City of Mesa’s website.