STEELE INDIAN SCHOOL PARK
SCOPE: Site Master Planning, Interpretive Signage, Security, Picnic Shelters, Planting, and Irrigation
DESCRIPTION: Steele Indian School Park comprises a portion of the former Phoenix Indian School, an institution founded in 1891 with a somber yet sacred history of re-educating Native American children. The park design honors this history and simultaneously celebrates the park's contemporary context, providing open space and educational opportunities to residents of and visitors to central Phoenix.
The park design, which preserves historic buildings and features an extensive network of paths, gardens, amphitheaters, and series of interconnected water features that recall Phoenix's history as the 'City of Gardens.' A sunken spiral garden—made of recycled concrete slabs from the paths on which Native American schoolchildren once walked—serves as an entry monument and modern-day labyrinth where many urban dwellers go each day to exercise. The 'Circle of Life' promenade links three historic buildings with 28 custom-designed interpretive columns that tell the history of the school. Lawns and sports fields invite recreation; seating and shade structures promote leisure and comfort; native gardens, trails and amphitheaters facilitate exploration and learning. Organized along the park's central spine, a series of water features and tree-lined canal cool visitors and nourish urban wildlife. These elements combine to create an ecologically and historically-immersive urban park experience.