Architects compete to change course of dry Salt River to carry forth John McCain’s legacyTop Stories

September 30, 2019 11:01
Architects compete to change course of dry Salt River to carry forth John McCain’s legacy

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John McCain is a prominent name in the province of Arizona’s political state. He served as the United States senator from Arizona from the year of 1987 till his death, which occurred last year. With so many changes instilled and such grand transformations that he has been part of, the dry Salt River was possibly one of his biggest visions.

With over a year passing along since McCain’s death, the Phoenix community is still knit together to bring forth better changes and results to the vision that he had regarding the condition of the river. McCain worked till his last breath to bring forth changes and redevelop the long strength of the 58 mile Salt river that flows across the valley from Mesa to Buckeye.

Phoenix-metro chapter of the American Institute of Architects, second year in a row, is conducting a ideas competition, welcoming all the architects, students, urban planners and the developers to pitch in their ideas surrounding the ways to transform the riverbed as per the environmental and the economical guidelines persistent around.

With these possible visionary ideas in place, the AIA Phoenix Metro Chapter believes that the same could at least be a start to something that would generally help along for the revitalization and the deeper discussions surrounding the same topic all the more.

ASU idea and McCain’s involvement

It has been over ten decades ago that the dams were responsible for drying out the Salt river, thus leaving behind a scar around in between the Valley, causing an imprint.

This gigantic ditch, ended up being over a mile and consisted of wider and narrower sections and became a house for the commercial landfill, asphalt pit and a garbage dumping ground.

It was also five decades ago that a group of the Arizona State University architecture students were approached to find better ways to mitigate this problem and implement plans that would help in getting rid of the dump that has been causing proper all the more.

It was their idea and visionary that the Temple Town Lake was built but even that was delayed and finally constructed in the year of 1997. The building of this was mocked and frowned upon by authorities and general people.

To this day, the Temple Town Lake is possibly one of the most commonly visited site of tourist attractions in Arizona and all because of the kind of thrill and architecture that has been put into it. It has contributed to over $1.5 billion in the economic impact to the state.

This was the turning point that led John McCain to work out better constructions along the riverbed to transform it and even contribute to the overall growth and development of the state. The success rate to such projects has been very limited.

It was again in 2017 that the drive for the transformation of the Rio Salado was amped up but that was done after McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma. He announced then that he wanted the redevelopment of the Salt River to be a project that takes on as his legacy.

The senator also spoke to a group of students in the field of architecture, showcasing his vision and these students from the ASU are expected to be the ones leading the next phase of the project.

John McCain believes that the prospect of the development of the Rio Salado could definitely be even bigger than that of the San Antonio riverwalk, thus making it the biggest environmental projects that Arizona could witness all along.

McCain quoted to the students of ASU saying, "Frankly, after a while, you start thinking about your legacy. It may not be completed in my time, but I believe that someday it will be."

“Crossing the line that separates”

Keeping McCain’s vision alive, the theme for this year’s idea summit is “Crossing the line that separates”.

Michael Jacobs, who is the ex-president of the AIA Phoenix Metro Chapter suggested saying that even though they have been able to mitigate the flood risks around the riverbed, they need to work more to find better facets of river and the ways that people can acquire the benefits from it.

He further highlighted saying that they haven’t treated it as a resourceful component till date and have been viewing it as a component that separates us, rather than uniting us. Their main aim with this competition is to completely reverse that thought process and the trend that has been going around with it.

The competition winner is set to get $4,000 as the grand prize while the runner up will be awarded with $1,250 and another student will get $1,000. Whether or not John McCain’s visions and ideals will finally get the results is still a matter of question at this point.

By Somapika

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John McCain  Salt River  Arizona