A growing biotechnology industry necessitated Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, AZ to expand and build a new facility dedicated to life sciences. Through the expansion, the college had three aims: to incorporate the new building into the fabric of the existing campus, enhance collaboration amongst students, teachers and researchers and finally to respect and celebrate the Sonoran Desert. The Life Sciences Building was designed by Marlene Imirzian & Associates Llc, Architects, and includes appropriate desert architecture and sustainability strategies like rainwater collection, xeriscaping, energy efficient design and use of locally sourced materials. Most notable about the building is a gigantic roof that creates the Big Porch, a shaded zone public meeting areas that were designed to enhance collaboration.
The Life Science Building lies between the existing campus buildings and the playing fields and helps connect the different campus parts together. Situated lower than the other buildings, a decision was made to construct the building at grade and build a long ramp to connect to the rest of the campus rather than truck in massive amounts of infill. The large sloping roof has a white coating to reduce solar gain and it extends out over an East-facing outdoor public space and a cluster of pods, called the Big Porch. These shaded pods are available for students, teachers and researchers to use for group work and each includes furniture, white boards and Big Ass Fans.
All of the labs and classrooms are located on the west side of the building and make use of daylighting to reduce energy usage. The facility’s exterior is constructed with masonry and copper, which required no finish or coatings and the copper (a major Arizona export) was sourced locally. Many of the hallways, staircases and circulation routes are located outside underneath the big roof, eliminating the need to keep these spaces air conditioned. The landscaping around the building is all xeriscaped and relies only on natural rainfall for irrigation. When the monsoon season hits in late summer, the big roof is equipped to collect all that rainwater and direct it into and underground cistern, which eventually percolates into the aquifer.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
This smart building eliminates the need to expend energy and carbon emissions on air conditioning with its smart, shading roof.
Images ©Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography, Inc.