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Desert Discovery Center Community Workshop

By: Virginia Korte

The city of Scottsdale and our nonprofit partner, Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale, Inc., invite you to a public workshop regarding the proposed concept for the Desert Discovery Center. Please join us as we introduce you to our experience designer - Thinc Design - and architect - Swaback Partners. They will be leading you through a workshop that will highlight the new Desert Discovery Center concept.

The Desert Discovery Center concept is envisioned as an interpretive education and research center focused on understanding the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and what it can teach current and future generations regarding conserving, living in and adapting to desert environments.

This workshop is an important step in the current process of determining what the DDC concept would cost to build and operate. This planning phase will be complete in August 2017. With this information in hand, the Scottsdale City Council can determine if they want to move forward with the project.

A community workshop will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Registration is required and a number of time slots are available from 3 to 7 p.m. To register, please select the time that works best for you and plan on actively participating for about 1 ½ hours. Please note: One registration per person. Those who register should be prepared to participate in the planning process for the proposed Desert Discovery Center at the Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve (located at the Preserve perimeter -- Thompson Peak/Bell Road). The Scottsdale City Council has directed further study of the DDC concept at this location.

Project Update

Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale has hired Thinc Design as its experience designer for the Desert Discovery Center concept. Thinc Design has developed world-class projects of national and international significance -- most notably the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The firm's focus is on history, natural history, culture and the environment.

The Thinc Design team will be sharing more information about the developing concept at the Nov. 30 community workshop. To-date, they have provided a Summary of Outcomes (PDF) that gives a glimpse into the aspirations guiding the Desert Discovery Center's experience design:

  • The DDC should inspire future generations to preserve and protect - the story of the Preserve is an invitation to see the potential and value of local preservation, at all scales, and it will inspire local pride and ownership that will grow stewardship in current and future generations
  • The DDC should educate - alignments with STEM and STEAM frameworks will inform the design concepts and exhibits, supporting the educational mandate of the Center
  • The DDC should build anticipation for exploration - an experience that stirs people's imagination, curiosity and sense of discovery ... for many, it will be their first exposure to the real desert
  • The DDC should show people the "world of the desert" - the desert cannot be seen in a day or on a single hike ... there are things happening below the surface and inside plants that most of us cannot see, as well as off-trail locations where species are known to congregate or ancient sites with petroglyphs that must stay undisturbed
  • The DDC should support tourism - many people seek experiences that connect them with the "real place": authentic knowledge, cultural practices and activities ... the Center is ideally placed to align with the strategy of the Scottsdale Tourism Advisory Task Force's long-term plan for interpretation on the climate and ecology of the desert
  • The DDC should be inclusive - design planning will address accessibility for all visitors, including experiences that can replicate some of how the desert "feels" for those who cannot have a direct encounter
  • The DDC should be a model of sustainable design and practice - in its architecture and exhibit design, the Center should be sensitive to the landscape and create the least amount of visual interruptions and impact on the environment ... the eventual size of the Center has been of particular concern and we should aim to define its size in terms of what is needed to achieve the mission and economic and environmental viability ... in its operations, the Center should follow practices for sustainable cohabitation with neighboring residents, including traffic and parking management

For additional information on the proposed Desert Discovery Center Concept please visit the website.

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