Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gabion Buttresses at Chaparral Water Treatment Plant, Scottsdale, Arizona

All Your Space Are Belong to Rust

Rocks Encased in Rusty Steel Cages, Shade Panels Suspended from Rusted Towers, Desert

I visited the Chaparral Water Treatment Plant (WTP) in Scottsdale back in March to take a look at its distinctive architecture, get some pictures of it, and ride around. That was a very good blog week for me, the one in which I saw the egrets along the canal, visited Lizard Acres, and also the Horseshoe fountain. In truth, I still don't think of the original post about the WTP as one of my best, but for whatever reason, it continues to bring in search traffic. I don't know why exactly, but there's interest out there in gabion structures in Arizona consisting of rocks held within rusty cages used to construct buttresses and adorn water treatment plants. I thought I could do better with the photographs than last time, so I went back to give it a try.

A curving wall of cages and rebar holding back a narrowly focused rock collection

Subtle variations in color, shape, size and textures add interest

Along the north side, gabion buttresses and shade panels work together to manage the sunlight
Cactus planters in curves to complement all the lines
Water capture basin at Chapparal Water Treatment Plant: does not add significantly to the output of the plant

A fountain: it was cool and refreshing to splash it on me on this hot day

That's probably enough photos for one post. I will put the rest in a part 2 tomorrow. I enjoy stopping by this place. This time back, it seemed like I saw more, probably because the first time I was here it all looked pretty strange. Yet familiar. Strangely familiar. Rusty steel and baskets filled with rocks built into gabion walls belong in the desert. Probably because the sun beats everything else into powder in a few years. Along with pools of cool water, structures and trees making shade, benches for sitting, and a stunningly clean public restroom with the county's coldest public drinking fountain for refilling your water bottle. If there was a hot dog stand, coffee, and wireless Internet access here, I might never leave. Get up. Go ride.


  1. You're due for a cold snap. Maybe 80?

  2. Nice. I guess it's literally intended to be an oasis. Great photos B.T.W.

  3. Steve 80 would be amazing. Right now it looks like we should hit that around December 1. Just in time to take some tree pictures.

    RTP Thanks! It's a very bike-friendly place, too, and right next to a great park.


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