The building consolidates all the laboratories for the campus, including Basic and Advanced Biology, Basic and Organic chemistry, specialized instrumentation, Anatomy, Physics, Geology and Astronomy, as well as chemistry storage and receiving, Chemistry and Biology Preparation.
The simple form of the building is a foil for the rich landscape into which it is set, basic masonry volumes are collected by a anodized aluminum rain screen, creating walkways and folding down over the laboratories, the skin is patterned by alternating colors and window openings, recalling the patterning of the basket weaving pattern of the local Indian community.
The building is designed as a series of simple lab pavilions organized around a series of interconnecting courtyards. Each of the internal courts and the four corners of the building are active demonstration areas, including exemplars of geographic formations, flora and fauna and use of water relative to each of the distinct biomes in the Sonoran southwest. Shaded exterior walks thread through the sequence of courtyards minimizing the dependency on interior circulation. The surrounding landscape and hardscape is a continuation of the learning environment, each courtyard and perimeter zone around the building is a demonstration biozome specific to regions within the Sonoran Desert.
The building integrates the exterior areas into the daily activities of the building user, passing through the varied biomes during the course of activities. The inclusion of the courts allows for the interjection of natural daylight and view, and the use of clerestory lighting augments daylight into the lab environment. The building is rendered in a simple series of masonry volumes connected by a series of covered walkways. These forms fold down over the ends of the lab volumes forming a protective sun/rain screen. This layering provides shade for the exterior wall, and allows for a unification of the varied openings in the exterior walls and shading for the exterior windows. Exposed concrete block will be stained a neutral color to work with the varied tones of the metal panels.
A key goal of the building is to be illustrative of sustainable design. The building orientation is such that the long north/south exposures control the total solar impact on the building; this is further augmented with the sun/rain screen which creates thermal shading for the exterior of the lab and office blocks. Window openings are minimized on the east and west, and insulated polycarbonate is used where light is desired but heat gain could be an issue. Natural daylighting and borrowed light is used in the office and interaction areas. The use and integration of landscape as a natural shading component, as well as the use of exterior circulation to laboratory classrooms, mitigates the need for additional air-conditioned space.