Civic Center Improvements

Planning
Design

Project Status

Construction work is anticipated to begin in October on a $27.3 million renovation of Scottsdale Civic Center, which was approved by voters in the 2019 Bond Election.  In advance of construction, Scottsdale Public Art will begin moving 10 sculptures from Scottsdale Civic Center on Sept. 1, 2021.   Some works will be permanently moved to different city-owned locations while others will be stored at secure city facilities until they can be re-installed at the Civic Center following the renovations. Additionally, two of the pieces will undergo restoration work before they are returned to the Civic Center. For additional details on the effected art works please visit Scottsdale Public Artlinks to external site.

 

Project Overview

This project will rebuild portions of the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall as the community’s signature special event and public gathering space. As recommended by several city conducted plans and public outreach conducted since 2015, the improvements will create an “event ready” venue. In November of 2019 Scottsdale Voters approved three bond questions, which contained funding to replace aging infrastructure and create event spaces in the Civic Center Area.

While there is a great deal of lush landscaping, public art and open space in the Civic Center area, it is showing its age in many ways including outdated restrooms, oversized fountains, and other structural and electrical deficiencies. Providing an updated attractive and safe environment, is one of the most important factors that can help in the city’s success of attracting residents and visitors to the Civic Center and Old Town Scottsdale.

Several structural deficiencies have been identified, and portions of the Civic Center area were subject to an emergency closure in order to repair them. The entry area in and out of Civic Center from Historic Old Town at Brown Ave. and Main St. requires better accessibility for ADA and pedestrians.

Holding a special event at the Civic Center requires an event producer to invest more prep time and money than at another comparable venues due to deficiencies. With few regional competitors for large events in a park-like outdoor setting, an updated public space will place Scottsdale in a competitive position to attract large-scale events, such as Super Bowl Live, a multi-day event leading up to Super Bowl 2023.

Community Outreach

A virtual public meeting was held in May & June of 2021. The following materials were presented:

Videos

Project overview

West Paseo (Entry)

West Bowl & Marshal Gardens

Civic Lawn & Botanic Gardens

The Social Hub

East Bowl

Public Art

Exhibits:

Overall Master Plan of the new Scottsdale Civic Center  (PDF)

View from the Southeast – Over Scottsdale Public Library towards the Main Street and Brown Avenue Intersection  (PDF)

View from the Southwest – Over Brown Avenue and Second Street Intersection towards Scottsdale City Hall  (PDF)

Perspective view from the Historic Society towards the Main Street and Brown Avenue Intersection, showcasing the new location of the Yearlings  (PDF)

Perspective view from the Marshall Gardens Wedding Lawn through the Botanic Gardens to City Hall  (PDF)

Perspective view from The West Bowl towards the 360° Structure and Plaza  (PDF)

Perspective view from the 360° Structure and Plaza through the Central Allee to the East Bowl Canopy; also showcasing Scottsdale City Hall and Scottsdale Public Library  (PDF)

Perspective view from The West Bowl towards the 360° Structure and Plaza  (PDF)

The design work for the improvements to the Civic Center area are based on the Master Plan that was approved in 2018 which went through an extensive public outreach process. 

Project Schedule

November 2019 Funding approved by Scottsdale voters in the bond election
Fall 2020 Design Work Begins
May 18, 9 a.m. Tourism Development Commission
May 19, 3 p.m. Library Board
May 19, 5 p.m. Parks & Recreation Commission
May 24 – June 11 Virtual Public Meeting
June 3 Historical Preservation Commission
Summer 2021 Public Hearing Process
Summer 2021 Public Art Relocation & Preconstruction Work
October 2021 Construction Phase 1 Begins
January 2023 Civic Center Fully Reopens

Project History

Established 51 years ago, the Civic Center has evolved as the city’s civic and arts headquarters playing home to City Hall, Library, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. In the mid-1960’s and early-1970’s, Civic Center Plaza was initially developed as the result of the City’s first Scottsdale Town Enrichment Program.

The City Council approved the first major update to the initial plan on August 7, 1990. The modifications envisioned in the 1990 update to the master plan were implemented throughout the 1990’s.

The Civic Center Mall Master Plan went through an extensive public process in 2015. The city received hundreds of comments from the community, learned a lot about what people like in the Civic Center area and what areas need improvements. In addition, in 2015, structural deficiencies were identified on the Civic Center Mall bridge over Drinkwater Boulevard which resulted in several renovations included the completion of a full-length structural wall under the existing structure and the closure of the open portions of the deck. The result is the large open area that exists today, providing improved sight lines and greater surface areas of usable space within the Civic Center Plaza.

On May 1, 2018, the City Council approved the second update to the Municipal Use Master Site Plan which became the foundation for the project being included in the 2019 Bond Election. On November 5, 2019, the City of Scottsdale’s voters approved funding for several projects including Project #1 Replace Aging Infrastructure and Improve Public and Event Spaces on the Civic Center Plaza and Project #36 Provide Free WiFi at Civic Center Plaza which will fund these improvements.

Frequently asked questions

The Civic Center Mall Master Plan went through an extensive public process in 2015. The city received hundreds of comments from the community, learned a lot about what people like in the Civic Center area and what areas need improvements. On May 1, 2018, the City Council approved the second update to the Municipal Use Master Site Plan which became the foundation for the project being included in the 2019 Bond Election. The design work for the improvements to the Civic Center area are based on the Master Plan.

November 5, 2019, the City of Scottsdale’s voters approved funding for several project including Project #1 Replace Aging Infrastructure and Improve Public and Event Spaces on the Civic Center Plaza and Project #36 Provide Free Wi-Fi at Civic Center Plaza which will fund these improvements.

Yes. A new permanent East Bowl stage with shade structure and new centrally located 360 degree performance structure at the current location of the Fountain Stage in the center of the Civic Center area will expand the ability for Performing Arts events. In addition, the current design provides busker performance space throughout the Civic Center.

Yes. The improvements will provide space for an expanded tent layout space with room for 230, 10’x10’ tents throughout Civic Center in non-turf areas. Additionally, several infrastructure improvements are being made that will make holding festival and performances easier for event producers.

The West Paseo is located on the western most edge of the park and creates a pedestrian promenade through a connected series rooms that link the intersection of Brown Avenue and Main Street to the larger Civic Center park space. The primary design goal for this area is to increase visibility and connectivity, and this is accomplished by lowering and flattening grades, providing open view corridors and flexible plaza space for markets and events. Check out Chapter 02 West Paseo for more details.

The West Bowl is the area located north of the Scottsdale Center of Performing Arts (SCPA) building, that includes the new Gateway Plaza, featuring the relocated Windows to West statue, the west bowl event lawn and a renovation of the existing Marshall Gardens. The design goals for this area focused on preservation of the existing performance space, the large mature shade trees and enhancement of the Marshall garden area to create a textural backdrop for small events such as weddings to occur. Check out Chapter 03 West Bowl for more details.

The Civic Lawn is located in the heart Scottsdale Civic Center and includes a flexible community lawn over the Drinkwater Bridge with a civic walk that wraps its edges, highlighting the history of Scottsdale. The lawn is flanked by the botanic gardens to the north and the Drinkwater Bridge terraces to the north and south. The lagoons remained in front City Hall, however they are reduced in footprint to conserve water use and allow for more family and daily programming north of the Library. The design goals for this area focused on defining the heart of Scottsdale, creating a memorable and recognizable space that is flexible for many different community events. Check out Chapter 04 Civic Lawn for more details.

The Social Hub is located between Scottsdale City Hall and Scottsdale Public Library and will have a direct connection to a new public library entry. The area features a splash plaza and fog feature, a children’s garden with sculptural play features, including the re-sited Freedom statue as a play element, and the grove, a shady social and picnic area that stitches them together. The space is capped on the north by a civic allee, lined with trees that frame views from the Civic lawn to the East Bowl. The design goals for this area are to provide a family focused amenity area that engages the library and provides a layer of daily activation for the park. Check out Chapter 05 Social Hub for more details.

The East Bowl acts as the front lawn to the neighborhoods to the east and is an event destination featuring a permanent stage and performance pavilion. The design goals for this area are to eliminate the current issues with the water feature and temporary event set up and provide a vibrant space for a variety of performances to occur while remaining community focused and respectful of the City Hall to the north and Library to the south. Check out Chapter 06 East Bowl for more details.

From artistic play elements, to interactive fog installations, to sculptural plantings and mosaic tile, each aspect of the design has incorporated influence from the arts. Intuitive ‘Art Walk’ wayfinding will provide a self-guided walking experience that enables visitors to better understand the history and stories behind each art pieces. The Freedom Sculpture will be brought back to its original intent and installed at the Children’s Garden as an interactive sculpture for kids play. The new Desert Botanical Garden will feature unique displays of native plant species and signature specimens, showcasing our desert as sculptural artwork.

During construction Scottsdale Public Art will care for and restore many beloved public art pieces including the Love Sculpture, Freedom, Windows to the West and the Yearlings. All public art is curated by Scottsdale Arts. To learn more about public art within Scottsdale Civic Center please watch the public art video to learn more.

The elevations will be lowered along the west entry corridor allowing for universal access and enhanced visual connections from Main Street, a new accessible pedestrian connection from Civic Center to 2nd Street will be created to the south, and the re-grading of East Bowl will soften steep slopes and provide greater access.

Yes. The changes being made to the water features and reduction of turf area add up to the reductions of 5.875 million gallons of water savings per year, the equivalent of approximate use 125 homes in one year.

Additionally, several techniques throughout the project are being used to enhance water collection including the use of permeable pavements throughout the site with underground conveyance, the introduction of planted bioswales throughout the site to collect and capture stormwater, and targeted roof water collection at the East Bowl structure that supplies the existing trees with an extra boost of water.

This project will add 130 trees to the civic center area and the majority of the trees that are in place now will remain in place.

No. The amount of turf lawn will be reduced. The turf reduction is an early measure that the city is taking to improve water conservation and drought preparedness. This will allow more flexible use of space for programming, events and enhanced features like the children’s area, interactive water and fog plaza, and grove picnic area. Replacement with low-water use, drip irrigated plant materials and hard scape, will result in a net savings of almost 4 million gallons per year in water savings.

Yes. The lagoon in front of Scottsdale City Hall will remain in place but be reduced in size. Additionally, the west entry water feature and east bowl water feature near 75th Street are being eliminated. The reduction of fountains and the square footage of the lagoon is an early measure that the city is taking to improve water conservation and drought preparedness. These reductions will amount to the savings of 1,875,000 gallons per year in water use.

Yes. The restrooms along the west corridor will be remodeled and there will be new restrooms located within family amenity area that includes family changing rooms.

There are several enhancements being made to Scottsdale Civic Center that will create park-like spaces small and large within the project. The Grove is a new picnic area being created with seating and an enhanced Marshall Garden with a small wedding lawn along with picturesque botanical garden will be created. A new interactive water and fog plaza will be built in the social hub along with a Children’s Garden area adjacent to with a reading room, butterfly gardens and sculptural play elements. The History Museum Courtyard will be reworked with steps offering a platform for civic discourse and educational lectures as well as a school yard green space offering flexible area for recreation.

Public Art relocation and preconstruction work will begin during the summer of 2021. Official construction work will begin in October of 2021 and is scheduled to be complete in January of 2023.

The majority of Civic Center will be closed during construction. Access to all businesses in the Civic Center will be maintained throughout construction and some pedestrian access across Civic Center will be maintained.

Project Information

This project encompasses two 2019 bond items:

Replace Aging Infrastructure and Improve Public and Event Spaces on Civic Center Plaza

Bond 2019, Question 2, Project 1

Budget: $27.3 million

Funding Source: Bond 2019

Sponsoring Divison: Planning & Development

 

Provide Free Public WiFi at the Civic Center Plaza

Bond 2019, Question 3, Project 36

Budget: $57,200

Funding Source: Bond 2019

Sponsoring Divison: Planning & Development

 

Project Location:Civic Center is in Old Town Scottsdale located on either side of Drinkwater Blvd. between Indian School and Osborn roads in zip code 85251.

 

Contact Information

Elaine Mercado, Senior Project Manager
P: 480-312-7985
EMercado@ScottsdaleAZ.gov