The Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory is extending an invitation to help brainstorm new solutions for a better Phoenix.

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RetroPHX, a play on the word retrofit, is an ideas and design competition site sponsored by the Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory (PURL), an extension of Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. According to Aaron Kimberlin, Assistant Director of PURL, “RetroPHX focuses on new and innovative concrete ideas that can be made at the parcel, block and regional level.”

Anyone from students to professionals and from visitors to residents can submit their design ideas at The site, which is simple to understand and use, features a map of Phoenix and a list of idea categories.

To submit an idea, participants complete an online form with information such as proposed location, summary of the idea and various categories to file it under. Ideas can be submitted through May 1.

Aaron Kimberlin, Assistant Director of PURL

“We are looking for thought-out ideas that can make Phoenix unique, interconnected and sustainable,” said Kimberlin.

Those ideas include creating high speed transit trains on existing freeway systems, better insulating house to save electricity, and transforming garages to mini-businesses.

RetroPHX was inspired by New York’s “By the City For the City” design and ideas competition. “By the City For the City” offers cash prizes and features a similar user interface.

To ensure that RetroPHX doesn’t just become a graveyard of ideas, PURL will engage practicing professionals and students across the nation to respond to these ideas in the second phase of RetroPHX.

Eventually all of the ideas, proposals and designs will be consolidated into a book.

PURL’s goal is to “generate innovative solutions that have true impact on the quality of our urban environment.” The organization does this through research, coursework and public programming.

Kimberlin hinted that RetroPHX will play a bigger role in April, with the first ever Phoenix Urban Design Week. More details are to follow.