The Arizona State University Research District is an environment that fosters the generation of creative new ideas and innovative solutions to the challenges faced in the 21st Century. It is a place to research, construct, and test new designs and products, a place to encourage interaction and collaboration between industry and academia. Located at the Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, Arizona, on the former site of the Williams Air Force Base, the research district is not only an incubator of new ideas, but also a test-bed for those ideas to be applied and proven.
The overarching intent is to create a living laboratory for research, full-scale testing, and prototyping around a series of primary streams that connect to ASU and the Polytechnic Campus’ research mission. In addition to research and academic uses, the plan introduces substantial housing for students and professionals, a range of community and social amenities, recreation spaces, and a central desert park. The research district site is proposed in the area south of the current campus and adjacent to the Phoenix Mesa Gateway airport. The district master plan integrates the rich ecological and cultural history of the site with the development of a cutting edge district that facilitates research and full scale testing and prototyping of regenerative systems focused around food, water, energy, and humanitarian relief.
The vision is supported by a series of organizing principles that connect to the existing campus to create a strong synergy, harness existing infrastructure and facilitate collaboration though a robust network of pedestrian oriented integrated research clusters. By organizing the clusters around the periphery as compact development zones, sensitive archaeological loci are protected and transformed into a central park. At the heart of each research cluster is a central public space that is appropriately scaled and shaded to allow for outdoor use even in the harsh summer months. A range of active uses at the ground level (research showcase, exhibition, co-working, mentoring spaces, etc) supported by coffee shops and food venues creates a vibrant and engaging setting to facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas.
Vital to the development of the Research District was the integration and update of the Polytechnic Campus Master Plan. The combined development of the plans creates a framework for future collaborative research and a seamless transition from the campus to the research district.