Ironwood Hall

Campus Capstone: Three parallel bars transform what was once a barren dirt lot into the capstone of the Chandler-Gilbert Community College campus. The forms read as a series of large-scale blocks–the grounded base supporting the lighter, more translucent elements of the upper level. Leverage Knowledge Spill-Over + Memorable Spaces: The unique mix of programs–Science, Engineering, Ceramics & Sculpture, General Education, and Faculty Offices–are carefully considered relative to the variety of resultant outdoor “rooms” and open spaces that interconnect surrounding buildings and delineate three different entries to the campus. The design breaks down the standard paradigm of teaching/learning only within the traditional classroom environment. “Sticky spaces” are scattered throughout the building for students to utilize. The exterior courtyard allows teaching to be extended from the interior classrooms and the use of shade and landscape helps to buffer this space from the harsh Arizona summers. Enhancement of Environmental Quality: As part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the College is dedicated to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. In achieving LEED Gold certification, Ironwood Hall plays an important role in fulfilling this mission and setting a precedent for future development on campus. Integration and Compatibility with the Natural and Man-Made Environment: Situated on a suburban site surrounded by development, the natural environment still played an important role in defining site relationships for Ironwood Hall. In order to minimize incident solar rays, the 60,000 sf building was arranged as a series of east-west bars. This allowed for easier solar control on the south facade, thereby reducing heat gain and glare. A vertical shade element and core functions are stacked against the west elevation and protect conditioned spaces from the afternoon sun. In addition to the building itself, an important goal of Ironwood Hall was to reinforce the overall campus environment. Sited along the northern edge of the College’s core, Ironwood Hall engages the main north-south mall to create a portal to the north. The geometry of the building defines three major exterior spaces; it gives an edge to the Student Center Event Space, establishes a plaza to the east, and creates a shaded internal courtyard that greatly expands the usable space of the building without providing conditioned air. A public artist-designed bridge connects Ironwood Hall to an adjacent existing building, enabling resource sharing such as elevator and restroom facilities. In addition, the 16′ cantilever along the south side creates a shaded walkway connecting the campus to a major student parking area to the west. Conservation of Natural Resources: Conserving natural resources was a driving factor from early design decisions through construction waste management. Much of the building’s circulation on both levels occurs through the shaded outdoor courtyard, reducing conditioned space. Additionally, laboratories were divided into briefing and practicum areas, reducing the significant HVAC loads required to achieve proper ventilation of lab spaces. In combination with an Energy Management System (EMS) to monitor and control heating, ventilation, and lighting, Ironwood Hall uses 28% less energy than comparable buildings. The selection of materials on the project favored recycled and low VOC products, such as acoustical ceiling tiles made of 70% recycled content and PVC-free carpet containing 40% recycled content. An innovative use of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) as a primary component of the building envelope also contributed to Ironwood Hall’s sustainability goals. The system utilizes an integrated foam formwork, virtually eliminating construction waste as the foam remains part of the permanent assembly. As a structural wall with high insulation values, this system reduces energy requirements while limiting the amount of material in the wall construction. Any foam that was removed to expose the concrete below was collected and recycled. Water demand on the site is reduced with xeric landscaping and artificial turf in the courtyard, while low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals drastically reduce potable water consumption within the building. Runoff from roof gutters are diverted to landscape areas, and the project extends the campus’ existing program of re-using reclaimed water for irrigation. Management of construction waste was a focus of the team as all scrap material including wood, concrete, metal, foam, and paper products were sorted and recycled. This effort diverted over 75% of the project’s waste from the landfill. Commitment to Sustainability: A myriad of sustainable materials and strategies work together to create a didactic LEED Gold building that reinforces the campus pledge to the ACU Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The exposed ICF construction begins to tell the story of the building’s design and construction, while informative integrated signage throughout the building details the projects’ key sustainable features. Interactive display areas, communal social spaces, and mediated workspaces create a Place for students, staff and visitors as well as a new paradigm for sustainable 21st century educational facilities.


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