In the coming months, when the City of Phoenix and Valley Metro sit down with planners and architects to design the next light rail station, one creative community member will have a seat at the table.

Earlier this year, Mayor Stanton asked me to help lead a new initiative to encourage community members to bring their most innovative ideas to the City. It’s called the PHX Innovation Games – a series of competitions that will provide our city with new ideas and solutions to tackle our most difficult civic challenges.

Local governments face many complex challenges that often require out-of-the-box solutions. But government isn’t always the best place to find creative or innovative thinking – some of the best ideas often come from outside city hall. The overwhelming majority of today’s disruptive ideas come from entrepreneurs, startups, makers, and tech companies.

Option B Drawing

We want to harness the creative talents of everyone in the community, and we’re doing that through the Innovation Games.

The effort kicked off in May with a hackathon that challenged software engineers, developers and web designers to invent an app that would help increase recycling. The winning team created a simple, 21st century tool: a text message service that reminds residents to take their blue recycling bins to the curb before pick-up days. It will help turn the task into a habit. Phoenix’s Public Works Department saw such value in the solution, it’s now working with the developers to make the service available to everyone.

The second Innovation Game asks the community to get creative about another hot issue: transit.

In August, voters approved Proposition 104 – or Move PHX – to support the expansion of the city’s public transportation system. City leaders now have to make sure the next stages of our transit system are designed to work for everyone.

So here’s the challenge: design a concept for the next proposed light rail station and its surrounding streetscape near 48th and Washington streets. The creator of the most innovative design will be invited to work with city staff as they finalize architectural plans for the station.

Station Elements

This particular station offers an interesting opportunity for several reasons.

First, it will be located within blocks of Ability 360, a world-class center that provides programs that empower individuals with disabilities to live independently. Bringing the light rail closer to this center will improve the quality of life for so many of its visitors who are living and thriving with disabilities.

Second, this is a chance to get artistic. All Valley Metro light rail stations incorporate public art – and we want to see art featured in design submissions for this station, too. The streetscape will need sidewalks and a cross walk, as well as potential shade structures and seating features. Since these elements don’t exist yet, it’s a blank canvas for creativity.

And third, this transit stop will open the doors for new economic development. We’ve already seen billions of dollars invested along the rail line – and new development tends to cluster around the stations. Transit has helped revitalize and energize our urban core by attracting businesses, retail and residents. Just imagine what this area of Phoenix can become with this new access point serving as its gateway.

Designers of all backgrounds should take advantage of this Innovation Game. And whether you’re just getting your feet wet in urban design or you’ve been drawing building plans for years, we want to see what you envision for this important piece of Phoenix’s transit future.

See the site and get your questions answered from experts at a public workshop at Ability 360.

Where: Ability 360, 5025 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034

When: Tuesday, November 3 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Submissions are due November 16. Visit for more details and resources.