Audubon Arizona and City of Phoenix


Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center and Trailhead


SmithGroupJJR's planning and landscape architecture helped transform the upper banks of the Rio Salado from a brownfield site littered with debris to a model of mitigation. Designed in collaboration with Weddle Gilmore Architects, the LEED-Platinum-certified facility delivers an authentic educational experience on environmental conservation and Sonoran Desert ecology while also reestablishing those very same desert ecosystems in the multicultural heart of Phoenix.
While the design provides outstanding public education and access, the team's overarching concern was restoration of habitat. The environment was recreated from the virtually barren ground up. Carefully oriented bioswales establish four biohabitation zones, replanted with native vegetation. This immediately brought back the wildlife: native bird species on site soared in number from 40 to 180. For city residents who might not otherwise experience the wonders of the Sonoran Desert, the Audubon Center is a gift, and for native flora and fauna, it's a new home.