“ We pulled the buildings apart and created a shaded circulation between courtyards. We put three 12-ft (3.7M) Big Ass Fans in the three atria to keep the spaces comfortable, and it has worked tremendously well. Mall Walker, Lake/Flato Architects
Transforming a decommissioned, 245,000 sq. ft. (22761.3m²) air force base into a vibrant college campus presented a unique set of challenges for the architects of Lake/Flato. When scouting the landscape, it dawned on the project team that the blistering Arizona heat rendered a walk through campus unbearable. On top of the unforgiving desert climate, the site was originally designed with an abundance of dead ends – standard practice on military bases. To create a campus cohesive to student mobility, one of the firm’s partners drew upon his own experiences in Morocco. While traveling through the sun-soaked African nation, the architect appreciated the close proximity of buildings that protect Marrakesh’s bustling streets with lattice-work to shade the alleyways. The Polytechnic project team took that concept and ran with it.
According to Matt Walker, an architect with Lake/Flato, “We actually pulled the buildings apart and created a shaded circulation between courtyards.” When designating large atriums for the dual-purpose of educational facilities and shaded relief points, Walker and his team understood that obstructing the sunlight could only do so much for student comfort. “We put three 12-ft. (3.7m) Big Ass Fans in the three atria to keep the spaces comfortable, and it has worked tremendously well.” And just as every designer sets out to accomplish, the buildings are used precisely as it was drawn up. “These spaces are used by people hanging out between classes,” notes Walker. “In fact, students who don’t even have class in the buildings are using them as shortcuts through campus.” In addition to the use of energy-efficient Big Ass Fans®, the project also features locally sourced building materials, daylighting and water-reduction strategies, achieving LEED®Gold certification through the USGBC.