- Project Name
- City of Scottsdale, Fraesfield and Granite Mountain Trailheads
- City of Scottsdale
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- New Construction
- 2,300 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
David Vernellis, Principal in Charge
Mike Faulkner, Landscape Architect, Project Manager, Project Designer
Doug Nielsen, Architectural Project Designer
Cory Almasan, Architectural
Mark Kranz, Architectural Design Principal
Nathan Heitzinger, Plumbing Engineering
Cristal Castro, Landscape Architecture
Toni Candanedo, Landscape Architecture
Bryan Jehling, Electrical Engineer
Rick Jones, Landscape Architecture
Tasha Wenderlich, Landscape Architecture
Joanna Noonan, Architecture
Eva Zambrano, Landscape Architecture
Structural Engineer: Paul Kohler & Associates,Civil Engineer: Dibble,Other: E2 Innovations
- Project Status
As cities develop and expand, it is our responsibility to actively protect, restore and maintain the natural areas in and around them. Not only do preserves maintain habitat diversity and critical ecological functions, but they also offer essential recreational and educational opportunities
At 30,500 acres, Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve is the largest urban land preserve in the country. Its series of trailheads contribute to the protection and advocacy of the preserve, with close to one million visitors per year, ensuring that use doesn’t have a detrimental impact on the sensitive desert ecosystem is both a priority and a challenge.
The design of two unique, picturesque and disturbed trailhead sites would provide a one-of-a-kind design opportunity to restore the natural habitat while expanding and facilitating access into the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Through an integrated design process, the team was able to work with the natural processes of the land as an understanding of the natural environment guided the design of sustainable amenities that provide refuge, shade and shelter.
Granite Mountain and Fraesfield Trailheads are two separate projects designed for the same client simultaneously in the northeast corner of the preserve. The primary structures provide restrooms and expansive l overhangs, allowing for most activity, staging and programming to occur outdoors, protected from the Arizona sun.
Faced with numerous challenges including limited utility access, drainage corridors, and powerline easements, the design team developed two complementary yet contrasting designs that each highlight the uniqueness of their respective site while expanding access to a vast network of trails within the Preserve and Tonto National Forest.
The Fraesfield Trailhead features some of the best and most accessible panoramic views of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Tonto National Forest. This more subtle terrain was once home to a roaming cattle ranch homestead.
The Granite Mountain site is punctuated by rugged terrain, filled with large sculptural granite boulders and overhead power lines. The structure is intended to frame direct views to Granite Mountain, a popular destination for mountain bikers.
The two complementary yet contrasting designs each drew inspiration from the uniqueness of their respective sites with one site featuring 360-degree panoramic views, while the other provided an immersive experience through boulder lined trails. Situated on top of a plateau, Fraesfield Trailhead integrates itself into the panoramic viewshed, imposing minimal intervention to the landscape while opening the surrounding views. In contrast, the siting and design of Granite Mountain Trailhead slowly reveals the desert via a choreographed path that celebrates the granite boulder outcroppings, aligns you toward a saguaro forest and finally unveils the striking view of Granite Mountain.