Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus 7001 East Williams Field Road, Mesa, Arizona • Mesa, Arizona


Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc., Lake/Flato Architects


Arizona State University
Footbridges crosss acequias that feed the arroyo
designed arroyo carries ephemeral water
Orchard Court recalls histoircal irrigation

Utility Goals

Reduce pollutant loads in rainwater
Reduce downstream damage from runoff
Safely move, control, contain rainwater
Capture rain for reuse (of all kinds, human and natural, from irrigation and toilet flushing to groundwater recharge)
Restore or create habitat


The stormwater management concept here is capture, cleanse, and infiltrate. When this site was a military base, 14 acres of asphalt road and sidewalks caused significant flooding. The former asphalt road spine has been transformed into a permeable, water-receiving arroyo that manages all onsite rainwater, paralleling a porous, decomposed granite pedestrian mall. Runoff is gathered from rooftops and hardscapes in each of four courtyards along the arroyo: the Orchard Canal Irrigation Court, the Desert Seep Court, the Cottonwood Sponge Court, and the Tinaja Performance Court. This rain is then piped to four acequias (dry, planted canals) that promote infiltration and, in large rain events, feed the designed arroyo. Rainwater is slowed in the arroyo by a series of basins that further promote infiltration, and in torrential rain events, a retention basin at the northwest campus corner holds and infiltrates remaining runoff.

Amenity Goals

Public Relations
Aesthetic Richness


It may seem odd that this desert landscape uses water as its theme. As the design team explained in their ASLA award submission, “Some might say ‘why is storm water important when you get rain so infrequently?’ Our response is that it is even more important because the path of ephemeral water in the desert--the arroyo--is the sustaining life force of the desert and urban dwellers that call it their home.” In fact, the water theme goes far beyond the arroyo into four courtyards, where a different desert water condition is presented in each. Cumulatively, the landscape offers a varied but unified experience of water in this unique desert environment.

Awards & More Information