Kaid Benfield Archive


Tempe's stunning new transportation hub - It's the way to go

Kaid Benfield

Posted June 5, 2009 at 1:44PM

, , , , , , , ,

  Tempe Transportation Center at dusk (by: city of Tempe)  Valley Metro at the station (by: kontaktmag.com) 

When conjuring municipal exemplars of smart growth, Tempe, Arizona, is not the first place that usually comes to mind.  But the city of Tempe and ValleyMetro, the transit authority that provides the region's spiffy new light rail system, have just created an amazing facility that in one place embodies the best of smart growth, green building, and sustainable transportation.  The Tempe Transportation Center and the Metro light rail line opened to considerable fanfare in December.

  I would love it even if it weren't green (by: city of Tempe)  the Center's bike station (by: RailLife.com, creative commons license)

Among the site's attributes, perhaps the "greenest" is its essential function as an intermodal transportation hub, connecting the downtown (and Arizona State University) light rail station with eleven bus lines, walkable downtown and university destinations (I can well imagine the congestion relief provided by the Center's proximity to Sun Devil Stadium), cycling routes, and a wonderful bike station that provides secure indoor storage, showers for bike commuters, and a bike repair shop.  But it gets better: also on the site are a relaxing public plaza with shade (essential in Arizona), and a mixed-use building that is probably the state's greenest, on track to receive LEED-platinum certification (though certification has not been awarded yet).     

The building's ground floor houses retail, a transit store, a security office, and the bike station.  The second floor contains the city's transportation office, for-lease office space, and a community meeting room, and the third floor contains the transit system's operations center.  There is a carshare station nearby as well, and even popular hiking trails that lead up to Hayden Butte, which overlooks Tempe; the architects took care to preserve sightlines from street level up to the Butte.  The facility's architecture is strking.

  hikers above can look down on the green roof (by: TempeDEV)  the way to go (by: TempeDEV)

The green building design features are many and are listed here.  They include a graywater recycling system, recycled construction materials, a vegetated roof, energy efficiency measures and native landscaping, among others.  The city estimates that the building will reduce energy use by 52 percent compared to conventional building and that attention to recycling and materials conservation reduced construction waste by 85 percent compared to conventional practice.  One nice aspect that caught my attention is that, because the building is close to the Butte, hikers will be able to look down and view the vegetated roof (see photo); the views are pleasant in both directions.

For more information, this is a good place to start.