The envisioned program is a research-oriented, mixed use five-floor facility slated to accommodate departments for the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth (ISPE), Institute of the Environment (IE), School Natural Resources (SNR), Geography and Regional Development, Atmospheric Sciences and Office of Arid Lands Studies (OALS). With an interdisciplinary culture, this building supports program space for a visualization lab, GIS labs, 150 seat auditorium, cyber cafe and computer commons, administration and faculty offices, interaction nodes and specialized program space.
Organized about a central “slot canyon”; curvilinear anodized aluminum ribbons define the walls of the central canyon, recalling the terra cotta walls of the natural canyon, leaning overhead and falling away. The vertical striations’ of the anodized scrim recall the desert varnish pattern of the Navajo tapestry of the canyon walls. As in the natural environs each terrace reflects he elevated desert floor, with native trees, grasses, shrub and stone. The canyon floor is a sand and stone dry bed, which gathers the rainwater and guides it into storage cisterns for reuse.
The climatic response of the building borrows from the slot canyon as well. The massive stone walls provide both cool thermals mass as well as critical shade from the intense summer sun. The precious thread of water and active evaporative cooling combined with solar chimneys to motivate air movement, and the diurnal temperature swings provide natural thermal flushing of warm air during the evening hours. The extensively planted gardens on each level of the building act as outdoor gathering space from the flanking office wings.
Laboratories and communal spaces are organized about the courtyard, a café opens to the ground level court, providing the social and interaction space as a catalyst for interaction. The high occupancy meeting and auditorium spaces are located on the ground floor of the building to provide easy access as well as animate the ground plane. Flanking office blocks are organized on accessible flooring systems for flexibility and adaptability over the lifespan of the building. The roof garden serves as the artificial ground plane for a departmental conference room as well as an extensive roof terrace for atmospheric experimentation and instrumentation.
Photography: Bill Timmerman