[Source: Associated Press] — Parts of the Arizona Capitol complex and surrounding parts of Phoenix would get a makeover in the years leading up to the state’s centennial in 2012, with bigger changes envisioned in the eight years after that. There’s no cost estimate yet but the architects working as volunteers told the Legislative Governmental Mall Commission that private and public funding probably would be needed, along with cooperation from the city, area landowners, and the state government itself. “We hope this is a nonpartisan, totally universal thing that is right up there with apple pie and grandma,” Phoenix architect Will Bruder said Friday.
Projects proposed for completion before the February 2012 centennial include:
- promoting part of Washington Street as “Centennial Boulevard”
- erecting new shade ramadas and steps to upgrade the usability of the Old Capitol
- livening up the Executive Tower’s exterior
- adding new rail service between the Capitol and other parts of downtown
- designating Washington Street as the city’s main parade route (as Central Avenue’s use for light rail eclipsed that role)
Longer-range ideas call for:
- designing new and remodeling existing state buildings
- creating extensive commercial and residential development between downtown Phoenix and the State Capitol
Tom Smith, a former legislator who serves as chairman of the mall commission, pressed the architects for commitments that they would stick with the project. Previous proposals to rework the Capitol complex have largely not been implemented, Smith noted.
Key components of the various projects will include promoting renewable energy, increasing the livability of the Capitol area, and celebrating all parts of the state, not just Phoenix, said Bruder and landscape architect Michael Dollin. The Capitol area needs to be changed from a “collection of buildings” to a unified area centered on Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, which could serve as a central gathering spot for outdoor events and gatherings, Dollin said. “It’s really the state’s premier park in an urban setting,” Dollin said. “We feel it should be the premier living room in the state.”