GREATER PHOENIX: PUBLIC SPACE FOR INNOVATION

As a post-war city characterized by suburban development, Phoenix largely lacks the categories of public space which exist in older American cities. The design of streets, plazas, and squares is informed by reliance of Phoenix residents on vehicles and air-conditioning, two factors which reduce opportunities for social interaction within the public land and spaces of the city. The built environment in greater Phoenix and the reality of intensifying climate extremes are issues which call into question how and where public opportunities for new space creation should occur. Public space is increasingly evaluated in terms of its economic performance; as a result, specific activities and audiences inform the way spaces are created, maintained, and utilized.

Cities, though often inefficient, are thought to be of specific value in that they enable the exchange of knowledge, driving innovation and discovery. Global cities have begun to transform neighborhoods into specific zones which are intentionally designed to facilitate the processes which drive innovation. These districts often include public and civic space, which as suggested by Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute, exist to encourage a “choreography of collisions.”

An Arizona State University collaboration with cities to create publicly supported innovation spaces within local libraries lists locations within fourteen communities across the country. The Entrepreneurship Outreach Network, also referred to as EON, reflects an opportunity in greater Phoenix to consider how public space may be created in the future: climate controlled, distributed at locations across a broad region, and optimized for an intended audience with economic and community development goals in mind.

This project is the reflects the spaces of three such EON locations within greater Phoenix.

Katie Belous

About Katie Belous

Katie Belous is a native Phoenician and a student of urban planning at Arizona State University. Her primary area of concentration is community development, and she is interested in the creation processes and performance of public space within the greater Phoenix area.

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