In 2009, the mayor of Phoenix, Ariz., introduced the Green Phoenix plan, partnering with community groups and individuals with the goal of becoming the most sustainable city in the United States. Exemplifying this partnership, Arizona State University built the 223,000 square foot Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communication building in downtown Phoenix, providing new classrooms, office space and a home for local PBS affiliate KAET Channel 8. GKD–USA’s Lago stainless steel woven metal fabric was used to create sunscreens, bringing the sustainable elements of sun control to the building.
To design the new building, Los Angeles based Ehrlich Architects were given a budget of $71 million dollars from the City of Phoenix and the University of Arizona. They were challenged with a strict design-build timeline and the need to create a building that was aesthetically impressive and environmentally responsible.
GKD’s Lago was selected to contribute to the project’s sustainability needs. Formed into 64 panels (a total of 2,400-square-feet) of sunshades, the stainless steel fabric covers a continuous band of windows on the west side of the building. The mesh protects the glass against damages while allowing light to penetrate deep into the building. The transparent AISI type 316 metal weave mitigates solar heating, but allows easier viewing of flat-screen TV’s and computers, and because of the transparency of the mesh, building occupants can still see a view of downtown Phoenix. On top of its ability to provide a clear view, filter daylight, and save energy through natural lighting, the durability and maintenance-free nature of the Lago mesh was also a contributing factor in its selection.
For increased aesthetic appeal, architects Ehrlich and Michael Jackson, along with designer C. Terry Abair used a variety of colors and textures in building materials, as well as including glass-encased staircases that protrude from the school to prevent a boxy feeling. The sunshades added an interesting texture over the glass, working both functionally and aesthetically.
Gary Case, project installer with K.T. Fabrication, Inc. was pleased with the product choice. “The installation was smooth and the company was great about making sure we met our deadline,” he said. “This was my first time working with GKD and since this project I’ve come back to use them again.”
The ASU Journalism School building was awarded LEED® Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and was recently shortlisted for World Architecture Festival 2009 Award.
Photos Courtesy of GKD-USA