James Elmore

January 1, 1966

  • James Elmore

James Elmore, FAIA (1917 – 2007) was the founding Dean of the Arizona State University College of Architecture. He is often referred to as “The Father of the Rio Salado Project.” In 1966, he challenged the College faculty: “Let’s do something with the river.” The Salt River was then a dry dumping-ground eyesore, and a periodically flooded hazard.

As a result, Professor Robert McConnell led his fifth year studio class of 16 students in visualizing the enhancement of the 40 mile section of the Salt River, from Granite Reef Dam to the confluence of the Agua Fria River, from a landscape scar to a grand civic amenity for the Phoenix metropolitan area.  The proposal was entitled The Rio Salado Project.  Dean Elmore brought the idea to civic leaders and championed the vision until his death in 2007.  The City of Tempe accomplished the most ambitious portion of the project, dedicating the Tempe Town Lake in 1999. The City of Phoenix has constructed a riparian habitat near Central Avenue.

n urban Planning as a founding member of the Valley Forward Association (now the Arizona Forward Association). Besides the Rio Salado Project, he was an early advocate for transportation including freeways and light rail.