Page E1.2 . 19 September 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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Platinum B-Side


The two buildings, composed together end-to-end, are very similar. A sky-lit central atrium runs north-south through the length of each, allowing natural light to infuse all four levels. The master plan of the Biodesign Institute includes two additional east-west buildings, to be integrated via a pair of atriums connecting perpendicularly to those in Buildings A and B. The planned additional buildings which would bring the total floor area to nearly 800,000 square feet (74,300 square meters).

The main entry for the combined buildings is part of an asymmetrical facade composition that includes the unusually elegant louvering system.

"Our research attempts to imitate nature's design. So in constructing our facilities, we strove for minimal impact on the natural environment that inspires us," said George Poste, director of the Biodesign Institute.

Specific green-building strategies used in the LEED-Platinum Building B, also known as Phase Two of the Biodesign Institute project, include:

Natural Lighting and Efficient Cooling and Ventilation

  • An exterior shading system on south and west facades controls unwanted heat from the hot desert sun.
  • The top portion of the interior shade louver system is automatically controlled to maximize daylight penetration by reflecting diffuse light onto the ceilings.
  • Office occupancy sensors automatically control artificial lighting, reducing both lighting energy demand and associated cooling loads. These strategies reduce energy use by 29 percent.
  • An innovative variable-volume exhaust system was designed in place of a conventional, constant-volume system, reducing energy demand associated with meeting laboratory ventilation requirements in the desert.
  • A reflective roof membrane and high-albedo paving materials mitigate the Phoenix area's urban heat-island effect.

    Water conservation

  • Low-flow lavatories, kitchen sinks, showers, and waterless urinals use 30 percent less water than conventional fixtures.
  • A 5,000-gallon (19,000-liter) irrigation-water cistern collects air-conditioning condensate water, which eliminates the direct use of potable water in landscape irrigation. Rain water from the roof and paving are routed directly via pipes to the drought-resistant native desert landscaping.

    Low-Impact Materials

  • Fly ash a waste by-product of coal-burning power plants was used to offset the energy demands of a typical concrete structure.
  • Terrazzo floors were made with locally available materials, including area river rock. This pays tribute to the Salt River that flowed through the site long ago.
  • Overall the project exceeded LEED criteria for use of recycled materials, at 15 percent, including aluminum ceiling panels, recycled-content carpet, and rubber stairwell flooring.
  • A construction waste management plan reduced landfill construction waste by more than 60 percent.

    Before the building opened to the public, a two-week flush-out was performed to improve indoor environmental air quality.

    The facilities are designed to foster cross-disciplinary interaction in support of the Biodesign Institute goals. Glass-walled laboratories and office space offer transparent views of each other across the light-filled atrium that separates them, and the height was limited to four levels to encourage use of stairways. The designers hope that crisscrossing paths through the public spaces will provide researchers with ample opportunities for impromptu meetings.

    "What we created was the idea of a large connecting space, or as we call it, a three-dimensional collaborative space," according to Larry Lord, FAIA, LEED AP, a science principal with Lord Aeck & Sargent. "So, all the floors are associated with an atrium that goes north and south, and then in the future, east and west so that everyone is connected in a bigger sense within the buildings."

    The 175,000-square-foot (16,300-square-meter) Building B was completed in 2006, by a joint venture of builders Sundt Construction and DPR Construction, with funding from a 2003 Arizona legislative appropriation to support infrastructure improvements at the state's three universities. The 172,000-square-foot (16,000-square-meter) Building A was funded by university capital funds and opened in 2004.

    The facilities, located near a new light-rail station set to open in 2008, represent the largest investment in biotech research infrastructure in Arizona, and the Biodesign Institute itself is said to be the largest generator of federal biomedical research funding in the valley. The research agenda is aimed toward integrating biology, medicine, engineering, nanotechnology and advanced computing. The institute also provides hands-on laboratory research experience for more than 250 university students per semester.

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  • ArchWeek Image

    Wood-finished louvers and a double-skin facade protect interior spaces in the Biodesign Institute from the harsh Arizona sun.
    Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Elsewhere, operable interior blinds and a roof-mounted shade shield researchers.
    Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography

    ArchWeek Image

    A skylight and atrium allow daylight into the core of the ASU Biodesign Intitute.
    Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Thoughtful material selections helped Building B of the ASU Biodesign Insitute earn its LEED Platinum rating.
    Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography

    ArchWeek Image

    North and east elevation drawings of the ASU Biodesign Insitute, Building B.
    Image: Courtesy ASU Biodesign Insitute Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Section drawing through Building B of the ASU Biodesign Insitute.
    Image: Courtesy ASU Biodesign Insitute Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Native plants surround the Biodesign Insitute, minimizing the facility's water use.
    Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography

    ArchWeek Image

    The ASU Biodesign Insitute Building B Building stands adjacent to its LEED Gold-rated predecessor (background).
    Photo: Mark Boisclair Photography


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