Client DMB Mesa Proving Grounds, LLC
Location Mesa, Arizona
Scope Redesign existing standard retention basin

BASIS School Retention Basin/Outdoor Classroom

Project Details

Westwood’s Role

  • Planning
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Civil Engineering
  • Hydrology


BASIS Mesa at Eastmark is one of the nation’s top-ranked charter schools. It is situated adjacent to The Eastmark Great Park ®, providing students an opportunity to easily enjoy the park during off-hours.

As the designers of The Eastmark Great Park ®, Westwood was asked to redesign the new BASIS School’s existing standard retention basin, so it would blend into the park and make the school’s landscape edge synonymous with the landscape character of the park.

Combining Functionality with Learning

In addition to blending the retention basin into the curvilinear design of the park’s washes, Westwood developed a creative solution that not only blended the retention basin into the park character but turned it into an outdoor classroom for BASIS Mesa’s students. Westwood incorporated gabion walls to match the school’s architecture and rock outcroppings to blend in with the park. An outdoor stage and event pavilion was incorporated for lectures, plays, and small musical performances. The basin hillsides were landscaped to create an ecological classroom, with a variety of plant material to provide the students an opportunity to study the biological habitats, enabling students to experience it in learning as well as lecture.

The design included zones, ecology, and replicated Eastmark’s rock outcroppings to make the basin look more natural, support science programs, and teach students about the washes. What began as an effort to blend park features with the basin resulted in a functional outdoor learning environment.

The basin is dry most of the time, but with the potential of two inches of rain in 20 minutes and runoff from all of the school’s parking areas, Westwood added flush basin functionality into the design. Water comes in, drains through into the first flush, then through rock, and overflows into the park’s drainage water harvesting system.

This simple yet creative landscape and engineering design helps to retain the drainage from the school property, while providing outdoor education for the school. The once standard basin has become a sitting and contemplation area and classroom. Its design allows for small groups and large gatherings, which makes it an appealing and useful extension of the school environment.

See also:

Eastmark Overview
Eastmark Mass Grading
The Eastmark Great Park ® Master Plan
The Eastmark Great Park ® Palm Plaza and Splash Pad
The Eastmark Great Park ® Water Harvesting
The Eastmark Great Park ® Event Pavilion
The Eastmark Great Park ® Orange Monster
BASIS School Retention Basin/Outdoor Classroom