Three big-name teams shortlisted for Mesa, Arizona plaza

City Terrain, Landscape Architecture, West
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Colwell Shelor+West 8+Weddle Gilmore proposal (City of Mesa)

Colwell Shelor+West 8+Weddle Gilmore proposal (City of Mesa)

If all goes according to plan, Mesa, Arizona is going to have one heck of a public plaza in the center of its downtown. The city just unveiled schemes from three teams, selected from a recent RFQ (PDF), to design the space, located on an area currently occupied mostly by local government buildings and surface parking lots. According to the city, the site, meant to accommodate up to 25,000 people, would host annual events like the Mesa Arts Festival, Arizona Celebration of Freedom, and the Great Arizona Bicycle Festival.

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Lake|Flato Beats the Heat at ASU

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Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

Lake|Flato replaced an inefficient one-story wing with a two-story volume wrapped in a high-performance facade. (Bill Timmerman)

LEED Platinum renovation reconnects the Health Services Building to the campus core.

Early in their renovation of the Arizona State University Health Services Building, Lake|Flato Architects, working with orcutt | winslow, decided to scrap the university’s initial concept in favor of a plan that would reengage the campus’s historic pedestrian corridor, the Palm Walk. Instead of building an addition to the north side of the existing facility, which included a serviceable two-story building constructed in the 1950s and another structure Lake|Flato partner Andrew Herdeg described as “a rambling one-story rabbit warren of spaces,” the architects elected to demolish the one-story wing and build a two-story addition in its place. “This initial idea that we need to look at the basic concept before we start the design, and think about it from the campus design perspective, changed everything,” said Herdeg. It allowed the design team to reduce the program by about 12 percent and reduce the footprint by 20 percent, as well as to preserve 5,000 square feet of green space for programs and stormwater mitigation. But it also presented a challenge. The renovated building’s primary identity would be on the east facade of the building, where the desert sun had the potential to undo efficiencies gained elsewhere.
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debartolo architects’ Weathering Steel Bicycle Gallery

Architecture, Envelope, West
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
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(Timmerman Photography)

Bicycle Haüs’s contemporary structural glass and corrugated steel envelope reflects the owners’ interest in cutting-edge cycling technology. (Timmerman Photography)

Glass and corrugated metal envelop a Scottsdale cycling shop.

When debartolo architects principal Jack DeBartolo 3 AIA first visited the site of Bicycle Haüs in Scottsdale, he knew it was exactly what owners Shasta and Kale Keltz were looking for. “In Arizona, with our very intense heat, we love it when we can unite two things: a northern orientation to maximize light without direct sun, and high visibility to the public way,” said DeBartolo. “When a parcel’s oriented like this, with its main side facing north, it allows us to do both things in one. We can build a glass facade for light and to advertise the contents, and it can also be a view building.” DeBartolo’s firm designed a wedge-shaped structure with a broad structural glass facade facing the street. The remainder of the building is clad in weathering steel, a low-maintenance material that taps into the desert aesthetic of decay and renewal. Read More

AIA’s Committee On The Environment Announces 2014′s Top 10 Green Buildings

Arizona State University Student Health Services. ( Bill Timmerman / Courtesy AIA)

Arizona State University Student Health Services. ( Bill Timmerman / Courtesy AIA)

The AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced the winners of its annual sustainability awards program. Now in its 18th year, the COTE awards celebrate green architecture, design, and technology. According to a press release, the winning projects must “make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts.”

Each of the ten winners will be officially honored at the AIA’s National Convention and Design Exhibition in Chicago later this year, but, in the meantime, here’s a closer look at the 10 winners.

View the winners after the jump.

Boom or Bust for Phoenix’s Warehouse District?

Phoenix developer Michael Levine won a 2007 Arizona Governor's Heritage Preservation Award for his adaptive re-use of the warehouse at 605 E. Grant Streets. (Courtesy Michael Levine)

Phoenix developer Michael Levine won a 2007 Arizona Governor’s Heritage Preservation Award for his adaptive reuse of the warehouse at 605 E. Grant Streets. (Courtesy Michael Levine)

According to a recent article on azcentral.com, Phoenix’s Warehouse District is in the midst of a renaissance. Or is it? The man behind several adaptive reuse projects in the neighborhood says not so fast. “It’s like every five years someone gets excited about it and writes the same article,” said developer Michael Levine. While he admits there’s been an uptick in interest in the mid-century industrial buildings, he doubts his fellow landowners’ motives. “If you give them enough money…they’d have the [buildings] demolished,” he said.

Continue reading after the jump.

Sonoran Desert Vernacular by CO Architects

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CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

CO Architects studied the Sonoran Desert to create a new urban vernacular for Phoenix. (Bill Timmerman)

Red-rock mountains and the saguaro cactus inspired the Health Sciences Education Building’s rippling copper facade.

Downtown Phoenix, observed CO Architects’ Arnold Swanborn, looks a lot like downtown Minneapolis. That feels wrong, given the two cities’ contrasting environments. So when it came to designing the Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) at Phoenix Biomedical Campus (which won honorable mention for facades in AN’s Best of Design Awards), CO Architects went back to nature—to the Sonoran Desert in particular. “We’re building in a desert. We really, in the outset, wanted to understand what it’s like to build in a desert environment, to really go back and investigate the people who first moved there, or even some of the [American] Indians who lived [there],” said Swanborn. “The skin is really a response to some of the lessons we learned from going out to the desert, being out there and seeing how plants and animals adapted to that environment.” Read More

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