Architecture and Design

PURL to Host Phoenix Urban Design Week in April

​This April, ASU's Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory is bringing together creatives, academics and urban planners for a week of discussions on Phoenix's problems and potential.

The first-ever Phoenix Urban Design Week begins Monday, April 9, with two lectures -- one centered on Images of America: Downtown Phoenix, a book of historical photos and stories by Jim McPherson, J. Seth Anderson and Suad Mahmuljin, and the other highlighting an art installation from Sloan McFarland, principal of midtown's Martha + Mary

Tuesday offers a screening of the documentary Making Sense of Place -- Phoenix: The Urban Desert, and Wednesday brings a much-hyped debate between Andrew Ross, author of Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City, and Grady Gammage Jr., senior research fellow at ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy and a vocal critic of the book.

But the capstone of Urban Design Week is PURL's annual symposium, a two-day event that brings in national and local speakers to discuss and showcase their research on "retrofitting the suburbs," says PURL assistant director Aaron Kimberlin.

"It's about activating space," he says. "In Phoenix, we have a lot of vacant land that needs to be utilized, and we have a lot of post-World War II homes that can be reinvented."

Friday's symposium includes an analysis of RetroPHX, a contest designed to gather ideas about how to improve Phoenix's urban sprawl, while Thursday night ushers in the return of PURL Jam, a rapid-fire presentation of ideas from top urban thinkers that was part of last year's Phoenix Design Week.

Kimberlin says Phoenix Urban Design Week was inspired by the success of Phoenix Design Week, whose creator, Mark Dudlik, even offered his non-profit Lost Creature as a supporting organization of Urban Design Week.

"The more the merrier," Dudlik said in an email. "It is a type of design we don't have a lot of time to focus on during Phoenix Design Week, so its nice to have a week devoted to it."

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

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