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The Phoenix Capitol Mall Studios as Examples of Community Embeddedness

Carlos Balsas (School of Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)

Open House International

ISSN: 0168-2601

Article publication date: 1 September 2006



The Capitol Mall is a very complex urban area adjacent to downtown Phoenix, where Governmental buildings exist side by side with a historic residential neighborhood, warehouse buildings, an under-construction human services campus, vacant lots, and many homeless people on the streets. This area has been 'forgotten' in recent efforts to revitalize downtown Phoenix. The Capitol Mall project involved two studios - Architecture and Planning - conducted simultaneously during spring 2005. The planning studio was intended to develop a revitalization plan and the architecture studio was charged with developing specific programs and projects of urban design and architecture.

The purpose of this paper is threefold: 1) to introduce our studios as examples of community embeddedness, 2) to discuss our pedagogical approaches and the project's outcomes, and 3) to present a set of lessons learned that can be valuable to others teaching similar joint studio arrangements. In brief the five lessons are: a) joint studios can have different approaches to reality, b) interdisciplinary studios can benefit from different methodologies and outcomes, c) planning and architecture studios use classroom resources differently, d) joint studios display creativity in different ways, 5) interdisciplinary studios can lead to joint discovery and re-enforcement of learning experiences.



Balsas, C. (2006), "The Phoenix Capitol Mall Studios as Examples of Community Embeddedness", Open House International, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 67-76.



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