Architecture and Design

Three Must-See Events During Phoenix Urban Design Week

The first-ever Phoenix Urban Design Week begins on Monday, bringing together dozens of local creatives, academics and developers for discussions on how to save Phoenix from the downward spiral of urban sprawl.

Hosted by the Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory, the week's events will examine the history of Phoenix's design and propose ways for the city to activate its unused spaces and meet its full potential.

Urban Design Week may also be your last chance to hang out on the awesome eighth floor of the Security Building, as PURL is moving out in May.

There are plenty of events to catch throughout the week, but if you're strapped for time, don't miss these three:

3. Andrew Ross vs. Grady Gammage Jr. Wednesday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $5 to register. The gauntlet was thrown back in November, when NYU professor Andrew Ross declared Phoenix the least sustainable city in his book, "Bird on Fire." Now, Ross is coming back to the city for a sustainability showdown with Grady Gammage Jr., a senior research fellow at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU, a school that has brought a slew of sustainability research and initiatives to Phoenix.

2. PURL Jam: Activating Spaces Thursday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Free with registration. This Ignite-style event brings together a group of emerging and established scholars and creatives for rapid individual presentations -- 20 slides at 20 seconds each. The goal is to expose people to new ideas and research, inspiring them to get involved with the presenter's project or even start their own. This year's presenters include Christoph Kaiser of Plus Minus Studio, George Oliver of ASU, Hugo Medina of Calle 16, Kirby Hoyt of Edge Industries, Kenny Barrett of Roosevent Growhouse, George Brooks Jr. of NxT Horizon and author Nan Ellin.

1. RetroPHX design analysis Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. $25 (includes Thursday symposium) to register. Part of the Friday's Retrofitting Sprawl Symposium is an analysis workshop focused on submissions from a PURL contest that began in February. Through RetroPHX, PURL asked locals for ideas on how to improve Phoenix's urban sprawl. The submissions, listed on, include ideas like restoring historic buildings and making the city more walkable.

For the complete schedule, visit All events will be at PURL, on the eighth floor of 234 N. Central Ave. in downtown Phoenix.

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Jessica Testa