In Arizona, the design equivalent of having your cake and eating it too is having a good-looking building that's energy efficient and tough enough to stand up to the harsh environmental extremes. Helping Gabor Lorant Architects Inc. of Phoenix succeed on both fronts with its design of Engel Hall on the Williams Campus of Chandler-Gilbert Community College was Airolite, a Schofield, WI-based maker of louvers, grilles and sun-control products.
With its main campus in Mesa, AZ, Chandler-Gilbert Community College serves more than 16,000 students in the Southeast Valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The 753-acre Williams Campus in Chandler was created on land that was originally part of the former Williams Air Force Base and is in close proximity to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Engel Hall was added in December, 2008. The 20,778 square-foot nursing classroom and faculty office building also includes a 6,000 square-foot covered outdoor plaza. The first floor of the building houses student classrooms, laboratory spaces and lounge areas; the second floor houses faculty offices.
Engel Hall was developed as part of the Williams Education Research and Training Master Plan and with an administration directive to provide the college with a new standard of design and architectural materials for future expansion projects across the campus. Achieving maximum energy efficiency and indoor air comfort by minimizing the impact of the hot Arizona sun and a minimum LEED Gold Certification were key requirements of this project. Materials and products employed in the facility were selected based on their insulative value, their durability under extreme regional weather conditions, their visual and textural intrigue, their recycled content and their regional availability.
Architects positioned Engel Hall’s building footprint and created exterior facades to establish a revitalized street presence to the adjacent avenue. The building’s low-profile and sleek lines are visually integrated with the expansive horizon that surrounds the campus. Engel Hall’s engaging but understated exterior immediately projects a progressive, contemporary image for the college and helps support the Master Plan’s recommendation to create new space that “represents the place of this institution in its community.”
A sweeping veil of Airolite sun controls spans the entire length and height of Engel Hall’s second floor, providing a distinctive visual intrigue to the building during daylight hours and a stunning presence when backlit from the interior at night. The stylish second floor wall of Airolite sun controls also provides a dramatic framed view of the Superstition Mountains for visitors standing in the outdoor plaza where graduation ceremonies, concerts, trade fairs and other campus events will be held. The sun controls’ Kynar 500® Pearlescent Warm Silver finish matches the adjacent storefront and ceiling systems.
Vital shading provided by the sun controls contribute to energy-efficient cooling and desired thermal comfort for faculty offices without obstructing interior views of the surrounding campus. Six-inch Airolite airfoil blades form the continuous length and height of the second floor. Blades are arrayed horizontally at 6 inches on center with a solar orientation of 30 degrees and were delivered to the site in approximately 10 feet wide x 6 feet high factory-assembled sections. Each sun control section is secured to steel trusses which also support the overhanging second floor. In addition, the flexibility of the Airolite sun controls relative to solar orientation helped with the user’s thermal comfort, and their recycled material content helped in achieving LEED Gold Certification.
Airolite’s sun controls provided shade for the faculty offices, which in turn created a more pleasing visual environment and a more comfortable thermal environment for the users. The sun controls helped contribute to reduced solar heat gain which resulted in reduced cooling and energy consumption. “Airolite’s architectural louvers provided a design element that subtly and successfully addressed the functional needs of the users, energy efficiency requirements of the building, and our own aesthetic goals as a design firm,” stated Paul Goldammer, project manager for Gabor Lorant Architects, Inc.
Roni Baker Associates LLC of Phoenix was the project's Airolite representative.