ASU spreads its wings

04 Mar 2011

Former airbase becomes new campus for ASU Polytechnic

The design for the ASU Polytechnic transformed a decommissioned airbase into an inviting pedestrian campus that celebrates the desert landscape and creates a new identity for the program. By segmenting the 245,000-sq-ft program into five buildings, the architects formed four landscaped courtyards linked by a series of portals and arcades, creating a cohesive pedestrian campus.

The three largest buildings turn their long sides to the east and west protecting the courtyards and open-air atria from the monsoon driven rain and desert dust. These shady, open air atria provide environmentally sensitive social spaces that maximise visibility, daylighting, and the sense of community while minimising energy usage.

By removing 14 acres of asphalt and concrete and transforming it into a desert landscaped mall, storm water is slowed, captured in smaller detention basins throughout the new mall and in turn, used to nourish the desert landscaping. The strategy minimises the load on the existing storm water detention basin, but more importantly, it establishes a beautiful indigenous landscape as the heart of the new campus.

Flexibility and growth were central considerations. Consequently, the design relies on simple well-lit classrooms configured around a repetitive 30' x 30' module. Utilities and duct chases are located within the atria allowing the interior space to remain unobstructed, facilitating future reconfiguration. The use of a locally manufactured desert tough material palette and expressed building systems are both costeffective and responsive to the desert context.

Purposeful environmental strategies such as narrow building sections, shading devices and solar orientation allow 90% of the spaces to be eff ectively daylit, reduce thermal loads and contribute to its LEED Gold rating. The designs materiality, environmental and architectural strategies lead to an identity that is unique to its place and expressive of the Polytechnic's identity. The entire project, from master plan to construction start, was designed in seven months.

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