Jury: “This is a really big program that the architect was able to address creating a sense of scale. The outdoor courts, the spaces between buildings, and just the vocabulary of the architecture really gives it a strong sense of place and allows you to understand it. It never falls down.”

Architect: “There is a connection every minute of the day between students and the natural environment. Walking from class to class, people are always funneled through generous, shaded courtyards. The design truly engages students and fosters campus identity as they gather in the courtyards and atriums where daylight filters in. The openness and visibility in these spaces create a sense of community.” —Andrew Herdeg, AIA, partner at Lake|Flato Architects

Arizona State University Polytechnic’s campus began taking shape on the former Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, Ariz., in 1996 with 1,000 students. It was expected to reach 10,000 students by 2010, so to accommodate this growth, RSP Architects and Lake|Flato Architects crafted a 245,000-square-foot program with five high-performance buildings. The five new academic building more than double academic space on campus, and they are all LEED Gold–certified.

The older buildings on campus had larger footprints and were isolated on individual blocks. The new buildings, in comparison, are a dense network of linear spaces that are connected by arcades, atria, and landscaped courtyards. A new desert mall replaces a main four-lane street.

The new building typology seeks to minimize conditioned space and maximize shade and natural ventilation. Circulation patterns were moved outdoors and the buildings were pulled apart, substituting a three-story open atria for an artificially lit double-loaded interior corridor. The atria are aligned with the campus’s existing exterior north-south walkways to integrate the new structures with the existing campus framework. The outdoor spaces are designed to protect pedestrians from the desert environment, providing shaded courtyards—one of which includes a pistachio orchard, and another that incorporates a demonstration yard for experiments. The buildings are oriented with their longest sides on the east-west axis in order to shelter the courtyards and block dust.

Replacing hardscape surfaces on site with courtyards, indigenous landscape, and water features that use recycled water helps reduce the heat-island effect. To avoid previous flooding issues on site, the landscape is designed to manage stormwater flows in tinajas, seeps, arroyos, and manmade irrigation tunnels.

More than 80 percent of the spaces in the buildings are daylight, and glazing and sun-shading strategies were calibrated to specific orientations: The north-south-oriented wings incorporate a window-to-wall ratio of 30 percent open area, while the east-west wings have a 50 percent ratio on the north and 25 percent ratio on the south. The south-facing façades have horizontal sunshades and light shelves to minimize direct light penetration while spreading daylight indoors, and the north façades use either perforated steel or Teflon-coated fabric vertical sunshades to filter light.

The buildings are designed to support a variety of programs and rely on a simple configuration of a repeating 30-foot-by-30-foot module.

Building gross floor area: 245,000 square feet
Estimated percent of occupants using public transit, cycling, or walking: 50
Percent of daylight at levels that allow lights to be off during daylight hours: 82
Percent of views to the outdoors: 84
Percent of spaces within 15 feet of an operable window: 5
Percent reduction of regulated potable water: 54
Is potable water used for irrigation: Yes
Percent of rainwater from maximum anticipated 24-hour, two-year storm event that can be managed onsite: 100
Total EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 51
Net EUI (kBtu per square foot per year): 51
Percent reduction from national average EUI for building type: 58
Lighting power density (watts per square foot): 1.17
LEED rating: Gold, LEED NC v2.2
Total project cost at time of completion, land excluded: $64 million

Data and project information provided by architecture firm via AIA COTE Top Ten entry documents.

For an extended view into Lake|Flato's philsophies on sustainable design as well as a showcase of the firm's other green projects, click here. For more information on each project, as well as a database of past Top Ten projects, visit aiatopten.org.