Posts tagged with "Arizona":

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Studio Ma designs net-zero timber building for Arizona State

This is an article from our special November timber issue. Phoenix–based Studio Ma has unveiled a radically sustainable master plan and conceptual design for Arizona State University’s Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Building—a science and research complex that will be centered around a vast atrium filled with plants and water. The scheme will literally embody what its professors will be teaching—achieving triple net-zero performance by consuming zero net energy, and producing zero waste and zero net greenhouse gas emissions. “Beyond the field of architecture, we need to be working with scientists,” said Studio Ma principal Christiana Moss. Much of the technology for the building was, in fact, developed by ASU scientists. The green elements inside and out are many. A light-rail station will run right up to the edge of the structure, offsetting carbon usage, while wetlands and bioswales along the periphery will absorb and clean runoff. Not only will the complex’s cross-laminated timber (CLT) frame sequester carbon much more effectively than steel, ASU developed carbon-collection panels that will trap carbon dioxide, which can then be employed to enrich the soil. Sunshades will keep the interiors cool; and rooftop solar photovoltaics will help power the building. “This represents a closing of the energy loop,” said Moss. “We’re collecting as much as we use. The building, in a way, becomes living.” Inside the massive day-lit atrium, the biome’s thick diversity of plants will purify waste air, while its wetlands landscape will recycle rainwater, which will be stored in tanks under the biome. An adjacent water-treatment portion of the complex will also treat and recycle sewage (perhaps for the entire campus) for use as gray water using low-energy, bio-based systems. The final phase of that treatment will be moving the water through a hydroponic reactor inside the atrium. The interior will also be a centerpiece for farming, with grassy areas and even a canal entering the heart of the building. “These things have been done,” said Moss. “But they haven’t been done at this scale, in the same place.” The project’s delivery date is fall 2020. ASU recently issued an RFP, and another architect (still to be selected) will be brought in to oversee the design. But whatever happens, “the function needs to drive the form; and it will require a much broader team of researchers to pull off,” said Moss. “There’s a whole field of research that needs to be opened up to what this is proposing,” Moss added. “This is the beginning of a whole future I see for architecture. This is where we all need to go.”
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Bill Gates buys 25,000 acres of Arizona desert to build a smart city

A Bill Gates-run investment firm is hopping on the thriving smart city trend and recently paid $80 million to acquire 25,000 acres of land in Arizona with plans to build a technologically-integrated community from the ground up. Gates sees the city, tentatively named “Belmont,” as a chance to build information networking into the bedrock of any future development there. "Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs," said a representative from Belmont Partners, Gates' Arizona-based real estate investment group. Currently an undeveloped patch of desert 45 minutes west of Phoenix, the future of Belmont might hinge on old-fashioned infrastructure. While currently without water or electricity, the city’s growth would also be driven by the completion of I-11, an interstate highway connecting Phoenix to Las Vegas, Nevada. While the highway is tentatively set to complete construction in 2018, no timetables for Belmont have been publicly announced yet. What has been laid out is how the land will be divided up. Out of the 25,000 acres, 470 will be used for public schools, while 3,800 acres will go towards retail, office and commercial space. The remaining land will hold 80,000 residences. Arizona is no stranger to utopian city projects. The iconic Arcosanti, only an hour north of Phoenix, was founded in the 1970’s with the intent of merging the built environment with the natural world. Sadly, Arcosanti’s ambitious goal of demonstrating the efficiency of a smartly planned city never quite came to pass. While still a learning space and monument to designer Paolo Soleri, Arcosanti currently only houses between 50 to 150 people at any one time. "Smart" planned communities have a history of going awry, and Songdo, South Korea is a prime example. Originally built as an interconnected smart city meant to lure international investment, the majority of residents are now South Koreans who have been priced out of Seoul. Despite the underground trash system and personalized language learning programming for residents, Songdo also remains sparsely populated. Only time will tell if Gates’ city will be an inclusive, holistically planned community, or just a test ground for Microsoft products.
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U.S. Army to restore one of the last surviving WWII officers’ club for African American troops

In partnership with The National Trust For Historic Preservation, the U.S. Army announced its support today to restore and reuse one of the last surviving World War II–era officers' clubs for African Americans in the country. With the Army's go-ahead, project stakeholders will adapt the Mountain View Officers’ Club in Arizona into an events space that honors the contributions of black soldiers and the struggle for civil rights. The Mountain View Officers’ Club is one of only two surviving officers' clubs from the WWII era. Located inside Fort Huachuca, the country's largest training ground for black soldiers during WWII, the club was a social nexus, giving hundreds of officers in a segregated military a place to unwind with drinks and dancing, as well as cultural programming, like exhibition fights with boxer Joe Louis and performances by Lena Horne. The base, which sits about 15 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, hosted over 25,000 soldiers at its peak. Real estate developer and frequent military contractor Del Webb built the wood-frame, two-story structure from the Army's design codes, and the club is a prime example of World War II Mobilization architecture. The National Register–eligible property recently found itself on a different, more precarious list: Vacant since 1998, the structure was added to National Trust's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list back in 2013. To give the building new life, the National Trust is partnering with a host of stakeholders, public and private, to preserve the building and adapt it as a flexible events space. The Army has "conditionally" accepted a proposal to transform the building into a community site, one that would offer upscale dining and meeting options to military and civilians alike. A 4,400-square-foot deck at the rear of the building would be used for screenings and outdoor dinners, and low-slung outbuildings would add additional restrooms and storage. “We are delighted to have the interest and support of Fort Huachuca in exploring the untapped potential of the Mountain View Officers’ Club,” said Christina Morris, field director for the National Trust, in a statement. “Reactivating the Mountain View Officers’ Club is a creative solution that answers the local need for a new social, event and recreational center, while keeping alive this chapter of Civil Rights history for future generations of soldiers and civilians.” For inspiration, the team looked to a similar reuse project in Riverside, California. A former officers' club of the same vintage is the centerpiece of Homefront at Camp Anza, an affordable housing development for veterans and their families. The club now serves as a gathering space for residents and those in the surrounding neighborhood. The National Trust and the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Huachuca partnered with local and state groups to bring a site proposal to fruition this summer. The group includes Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers, a preservation organization dedicated to saving the Mountain View club; Tuscon, Arizona–based architects Poster Frost Mirto; Kadence Restaurant Group, a Tucson hospitality company; as well as state preservation and arts groups. With the Army's blessing, the stakeholders can now court developers and investors for the project. To pay for the work, one of those organizations, Arizona State Parks and Trails, turned to the National Park Service’s African-American Civil Rights Fund, a program to document, preserve, and interpret the 20th century's civil rights movement. If the application is approved, the half-million-dollar capital grant would pay for the restoration of select elements of the dance hall and fund an exterior restoration that would bring the building back to the way it looked when it was erected in 1942.
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DLR Group converts a former Phoenix jail into sunny offices

DLR Group is currently at work repurposing an existing 1980s-era county jail in Phoenix, Arizona, as a new, state-of-the-art office space owned by Maricopa County. The now-decommissioned jail was originally designed to hold 700 inmates, but its population eventually swelled, incarcerating between 1,200 and 1,500 individuals at a time over the last decade of its life. The jail was decommissioned in the early 2000s and has sat vacant for a decade. After DLR Group’s planned renovations, however, the complex will have new life, and will house six levels of daylit office space and ground-floor community areas.

“The basic approach was to remove everything back to the superstructure and start over,” Larry Smith, principal in charge of DLR Group’s southwest division, said. Smith explained that the 350,000-square-foot structure will be surgically altered in order to absorb the new office functions.

Planned changes include completely removing the structure’s four mezzanine levels and replacing its exit stairs. The existing stairs are located awkwardly within each of the four square-shaped lobes of the complex, impeding open floor plan configurations. They will be demolished and their footprints filled, with new exit stairs to be located at each corner, beyond the existing building envelope, instead. These new glass-clad circulation cores will complement a new communicating stair at the center of the complex that will be topped by a solar light monitor designed to bring light into the building’s center.

The removal of the mezzanines will lower the overall size of the project to 270,000 square feet and raise floor-to-floor heights to roughly 16 feet. The arrangement allows designers to add a raised floor plenum housing ducts, telecommunications, and electrical and plumbing infrastructure to each level. Also as a result, the old cell windows—a thin, horizontal band of glass set in from the exterior facade—now act as ribbon windows that will wash interior surfaces with reflected sunlight. Closer to the floor, a second continuous band of windows measuring 32 inches tall will wrap the perimeter of every level. Along the southern facade, this ribbon window is wrapped by a louver assembly made from aluminum plates. New planted terraces will rise through the structure’s perimeter.

Along the ground floor, new entry lobbies will embrace surrounding street life and create a “changing entry procession from the new entry on the street to the lobby and then security zone” for new users, Megan Duffy, senior interior designer at DLR Group, said. The complex will feature community rooms on these levels as well as a large planted plaza along the street.

Demolition phase for the project starts this fall; DLR Group expects to finish construction at the end of 2019.

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Architects take over the old Farmers and Stockmens Bank in Phoenix

William Pereira fans, rejoice! Though many of the high-modernist architect’s masterpieces are under threat of demolition, there is one notable structure in Phoenix, Arizona, that will continue to live on.

The former Farmers & Stockmens Bank—originally built in 1951 by Los Angeles–based Pereira & Luckman and designed in a localized variant of the international style—was landmarked in 2012 and restored in 2014. In spring 2017, the building became home to regional offices for Cuningham Group Architecture (CGA) and its staff of 20 architects and landscape architects who built out the office’s interiors.

The asymmetrical 6,000-square-foot structure—a rectangular glass box interrupted by a rounded, stone-clad vault—is cited by the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office as a hallmark of the Salt River Valley’s post-World War II expansion. The building is notable for its contemporary style and because the bank it housed was a key financial institution for the growing region’s stockyard communities. The structure was occupied by a Bank of America branch until 2012, and over the years suffered from a variety of incongruous renovations, including the replacement of many glass curtainwall panels with stucco cladding. Those changes have now been reversed, leaving the open, airy structure to shine as was originally intended.

Nabil Abou-Haidar, principal at CGA, said that the firm wanted to keep the building’s lofty interiors “as open as possible.” The architects filled this “blank shell” modestly, adding workstations along the ground-floor areas while also returning the mezzanine level back to its original function as a meeting room. Abou-Haidar added that the firm sought to make the office spaces as perfectly lit as possible, going so far as to install highly programmable, dimmable lighting fixtures and MechoShades throughout the office. Aiming to stay true to the midcentury-modern era that birthed the structure, the firm installed time-appropriate furnishings and sought inspiration from the style for original additions, like the streamlined ceiling fans and pendant lighting fixtures installed in the main lobby.

CGA also converted the old rounded bank vault into a conference room complete with a new curvilinear conference table. The vault does not contain windows, but the city allowed the architects to install skylights into the space. No need to panic, as it’s not possible to get trapped for eternity in a meeting—the vault door does not lock and has been outfitted with a ventilation grille out of an abundance of caution.

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Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture gifted a new Wright-designed home in Phoenix

The David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, Arizona, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (whose 150th would-be birthday was last week), has been donated to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The house led a charmed life up until recently. Designed in 1952 by Wright for his son David, the 2,500-square-foot, mostly concrete house had come into the ownership of developers who wanted to bulldoze it and replace it with more profitable housing. News of this intention saw preservationists spring into action, but the standard procedures were scuppered as in Arizona, where private property laws hold strong, landmarking only saves a building for three years. On October 12, 2012, Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times explained the other, costlier method of saving the house: "The other prong of attack is to find some preservation-minded angel with deep pockets who will buy it from the developer. Preferably today." Cue Zach Rawlings. A custom homebuilding entrepreneur, Rawlings fell in love with architecture after exploring it across the country with his mother. As a young boy, he even caught a glimpse of the David and Gladys Wright house when he peered over the wall. Little did he know he would later save it. During his research, Rawlings came across architects John Lautner and Wallace Cunningham, both graduates of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin, in Wisconsin. Cunningham went on to work with Rawlings. "The first chance I got to call and hire architects while building homes, I called Wallace Cunningham," the developer said. Then one evening over dinner, Cunningham informed Rawlings about an Act of Demolition permit that had been filed for the David and Gladys Wright home. "I finished the dinner, got on the phone with my mom and told her I was flying to Phoenix in the morning,” said Rawlings, reacting to the news. "I asked her to please call the broker of the home and schedule a tour as soon as possible." Twenty-four hours after Cunningham and Rawlings had sat down, Frank Lloyd Wright's work had been saved from the wrecking ball. After that dramatic episode, Rawlings went on to meet Aaron Betsky, dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin in 2015. Over more food (this time lunch), Rawlings became inspired by Betsky's ambitions for the school, and the pair discussed the possibility of faculty members living there. Now the house will be donated to a fund under the Arizona Community Foundation for the sole benefit of the School.

"It’s transformative for the school and a fantastic opportunity," Betsky told The Architect's Newspaper. "One of the things that sets our school apart is living and working in Frank Lloyd Wright's built works—this addition only enhances that experience and lets us build on Wright’s legacy."

Betsky also acknowledged that "without doubt," some work has to be done on the house before educational programming can start there. A structural analysis has been carried out, though repairs to cantilevers and fixing leaks and touching up areas of corrosion also need to take place. Phoenix-based architect Victor Sidy is working on the building, as is landscape architect Chris Winters.

Arizonan architect Eddie Jones, principal at Jones Studio, will be teaching at the design studio specifically launched for the David and Gladys House. The studio will begin this fall and students will engage in the building and its six-acre site's renovation. (Originally, when Rawlings first purchased the house, it only came with a two-and-a-half–acre lot. Rawlings then bought adjacent lots to try and restore its original acreage.)

"This is all about the house becoming a place that can help students understand the relationship between the landscape and the built environment," remarked Betsky. He estimated that renovation work could take two-three years but admitted this was "optimistic." "We do not want to interrupt the [design] work going on inside," he said. Once restored there will be limited tours, and the house will be open to the public.

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New models emerge in multifamily NZE buildings in Arizona

For years, builders across the western and southwestern regions have been moving in piecemeal efforts toward developing Net-Zero Energy (NZE) housing models for mass production, as new regulations envision the near-future proliferation of NZE building types, and energy-conscious consumers begin to ask for these structures as well. NZE buildings—a widely and variously defined concept—generally produce as much energy as they consume over the course of a year. They aim to reduce overall energy consumption while also generating renewable energy on site.

Builders have discovered that the best way to standardize NZE building methods is to lower overall building energy consumption first, and only then tackle costly additions like green technology. That means increasing insulation values within building walls while also tightening the exterior envelope. It is also important to place mechanical equipment within conditioned spaces and to program interior spaces with an eye toward solar exposure. After energy-efficient appliances are specified and a building energy analysis is conducted, designers move to size energy systems appropriately for the remaining energy loads. This tactic generates tight, efficient buildings that require smaller and cheaper solar panel installations. Because many of the building-related approaches—like constructing walls out of larger two-by-six-foot studs to create a wider insulation cavity—are easy to do and do not require builders to learn new skills, these approaches have brought down the potential cost of NZE buildings substantially.

Using the above strategies, builders like Phoenix, Arizona–based MODUS Development are helping to bring NZE residential buildings into the mainstream even further by developing NZE buildings with contemporary massing and detailing at both single- and multifamily scales.

Ed Gorman, founder and president of MODUS, has been hard at work streamlining and modernizing existing NZE housing models in an effort to stay ahead of California’s plan to have all single and most multifamily residential construction be NZE-equivalent by 2020. When the change comes, MODUS will be ready. Gorman expects the housing market to move toward the wide adoption of NZE homes either way.

MODUS has completed work on several NZE developments across California and Arizona so far—most recently, a 41-unit development called Equinox in Scottsdale, Arizona. The project—the first NZE apartment complex in Arizona—is organized around a central courtyard, and the one- and two-story units feature deeply recessed balconies and loggia spaces. Gorman explained: “The balconies serve as a heat sink” to facilitate passive ventilation, and the structures “create shade directly from the architecture, the way a modernist building would, instead of as an applied afterthought.” The project came in at the same cost as a non-NZE construction and is fully occupied. The firm’s portfolio for the year includes three new NZE developments: two 20-townhome developments in Scottsdale and a 32-unit multifamily development in Tempe, Arizona.

For Gorman, the NZE strategy is a no-brainer. “Highly efficient buildings have higher tenant retention, often sell for as much if not more, and cost less to build than traditional buildings,” he said. “If you can make it work in the desert of Arizona, you can make it do anywhere.” The future of building in Arizona and California, it seems, is heading toward Net-Zero. 

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Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture will keep accreditation

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has approved the Change of Control application submitted by the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. This approval recognizes the school as an independent entity from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, a condition for the school to maintain is accreditation as an institute of higher learning. With the HLC decision, the school will be able to continue its three-year Master of Architecture program. Along with the graduate program, the school offers additional educational programs, including an 8-week non-degree Immersion Program. The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture was first accredited with the HLC in 1987 as part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and first became an accredited architecture school in 1996. The school will now begin the transition to an independent entity by August 2017. The initial application to the HLC was submitted in February 2016. While the initial application was denied, the school worked with the HLC to revise the application, which was resubmitted November 30th, 2016. "This is really a cap on a lot of changes that have already happened. This process started more than two years ago, when it became clear that the school needed to become an interdependently accredited organization. This meant we had to raise money, but it also meant that we had to do a lot of reorganization. That was a lot of what HLC was looking at," Aaron Betsky, dean of the school, told The Architect's Newspaper. "One thing I have been working on with the faculty is figuring out how to do this in such a way that we can be the best experimental architecture school in the country. Now that we have the HLC approval, we can move ahead with our plans." Architecture schools in 19 states, including Wisconsin and Arizona (where the Frank Lloyd Wright School is held), are required to hold accreditations from the HLC as well as the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). In 2010, the HLC updated its bylaws to include a provision which required all institutions of higher learning to be financially independent of any other larger institution that does not have education as its primary mission. The school’s accreditation is valid through this year, making it imperative that it proves its independence from the foundation before it expires. The school’s NAAB accreditation is valid through 2023.
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Urban farming in suburban Phoenix becomes the basis for an entire community hub

While urban farming has become a great catchphrase, it has yet to take hold in a significant way in most American cities and suburbs. However, an excellent model for its progression is DSGN AGNC’s Spaces Of Opportunity, an 18-acre site in South Phoenix, Arizona, that is much more than just a place for growing: It’s also a community hub, an art center, and a music venue.

“The idea is that farming here is an excuse to bring services to this area,” said DSGN AGNC principal and founder Quilian Riano. “A way to bring economic opportunity.”

The semi-suburban area is home primarily to low- and middle-income Latino and African American populations. It’s also the site of a food desert, meaning that fresh food is very difficult to find. “There are more liquor stores than grocery stores here,” noted Riano.

DSGN AGNC’s master plan for the project, undertaken with the Desert Botanical Garden and a consortium of local nonprofits, called Cultivate South Phoenix, lays out segmented plots for community gardens and incubator farms. Master farmers will teach apprentices agrarian skills, helping them progress so they can get their own plots to work. Spaces in between the plots will be lined by rows of flowering fruit trees. The spaces along the edges of these plots will take on myriad uses, including washing and cleaning stations housed in repurposed shipping containers; compost and animal areas; a 500-person, colorful corrugated-metal and solar-panel-topped stage; playgrounds; an outdoor gym; and walls for art.

Work on the project is already underway, and Riano said he hopes it will be fully up and running by this coming summer or fall. Its creation involves an iterative process that Riano calls “design, wait, build.” In other words, the firm comes up with a plan, but then the community inevitably changes it to better meet their needs, and then the designers scramble to catch up with an adjusted plan.

“The community already moved faster than my previous design,” said Riano, referring to his early efforts to start growing on the site. “I had to rethink completely. The design is constantly re-questioned, rethought, and reworked.”

He hopes the project—both its content and its development—will become a model for future urban farms and for urban development in general. Incorporating so many types of uses has helped not only with interest, but also with fundraising. Already money has come in from local philanthropists and education and arts foundations.

“It’s a design that is very flexible and very participatory,” said Riano. “We’re using every angle.” The team also plans to coordinate with local schools, churches, and businesses to maximize participation and support.

Like many of DSGN AGNC’s initiative across the country, the project is also filled with learning lessons, like how to farm, how to build, and how to bring residents, designers, nonprofits, and city officials together. The firm’s other highly collaborative projects include Under El-Space Pilot, a pop-up park under the Gowanus Expressway in Queens; INPLACE, a community plan designed to bring urban art and design projects to Youngstown, Ohio; and La Casita Verde, a flexible community garden built on the site of a derelict lot in Brooklyn.

“It’s not just about building, but about rethinking the design process,” said Riano, of his diverse body of work. “Everybody learns, including me.”

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Aranda\Lasch and Native American artist Terrol Dew Johnson combine traditional and modern craft in this new exhibition

As contemporary architects continue to integrate craft into their designs, they’d be well served to take a close look at the new exhibition Meeting the Clouds Halfway at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson (MOCA).

Stemming from a more than 10-year collaboration between New York architects Aranda/Lasch and Native American artist Terrol Dew Johnson of the Arizona-based Tohono O’odham Nation, the show examines the merger of contemporary and traditional materials, techniques, and ideas.

“I’ve always been fascinated by things that were really different and took me out of the traditional realm,” said Johnson. “I saw this as an exciting adventure.”

The show, staged inside MOCA’s generous, light-filled Brutalist main gallery, includes works ranging from jewelry and small baskets to furniture, sculpture, and large-scale structures that grew out of the designers’ experiments with the traditional native technique of coiling, in which a bendable material is woven around itself to create a solid surface.

The teams incorporated a large palette of traditional materials like bear grass, yucca, sinew, wood, gourd, horsehair, and feathers, and more modern ones like aluminum, steel, copper, and fiberglass. They merged coiling and weaving with computer modeling and fabrication techniques like CNC milling and water jet- and laser-cutting. Often a design would bounce between the teams across the country, digital and analog creations emerging in new and unexpected ways.

In one case, a wood basket was formed from laser-cut panels, assembled via weaving and connected with yucca and sinew. In another, a laser-cut metal loop would start in New York, and then come back from Arizona looking utterly transformed.

The artists first teamed up in 2006 for a show at New York’s Artists Space. The current show, curated by Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, displays diverse pieces on platforms and walls, and even hangs them from the ceiling.

The project was as much about process as it was output, said Chris Lasch, principal at Aranda/Lasch. “What it boils down to was looking for a way to exchange information. The design was always collaborative. The pieces were always done through discussions and design sessions.”

Both sides of this creative team are not only happy with what they’ve learned from the other, but are looking to collaborate again. Lasch notes that perceptiveness to local craft and materials is helping them with a new furniture system they’re developing for a school built by the 14 + Foundation in Zambia.

“The sky is the limit,” added Johnson. “I’m definitely looking for what the future holds with more collaborations or ideas to expand on what I need to express myself.”

Meeting the Clouds Halfway runs through January 29, 2017, see MOCA's website for more details.

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WORKac’s Arizona House revives the super sustainable Earthship typology

This article is part of  The Architect's Newspaper's "Passive Aggressive" feature on passive design strategies. Not to be confused with “Passivhaus” or “Passive House” certification, passive design strategies such as solar chimneys, trombe walls, solar orientation, and overhangs, rely on scheme rather than technology to respond to their environmental contexts. Today, architects are more concerned with sustainability than ever, and new takes on old passive techniques are not only responsible, but can produce architecture that expresses sustainable features through formal exuberance. We call it “passive-aggressive.” In this feature, we examine three components—diagram, envelope, and material—where designers are marrying form and performance. We also look back at the unexpected history of passive-aggressive architecture, talk with passive-aggressive architects, and check out a passive-aggressive house. More “Passive Aggressive” articles are listed at the bottom of the page!

“The desert house typology reached an ending point where it became all about overhangs and metal—a common vocabulary of what a desert house should be,” said Dan Wood, principal of WORKac. “We felt like that needed to be renewed.” For their typological update, Wood and his wife and partner Amale Andraos conceived an off-the-grid guesthouse in Tubac, Arizona, about 45 minutes out of Tucson. The approximately 1,500-square-foot structure will balance on a single column (a pilotos, joked Wood) with an extreme cantilever to create a shaded yard and a triangular frame.

The resulting form cites Arcosanti, Taliesin West, Earthships, and Spanish missions.

“There is a culture of embedding the architecture in the landscape that has this very environmental sort of aspect—the desert has this immediate effect of asking you to respect it because it’s so striking and beautiful,” said Andraos.

Starting with the concept of a classic Earthship (a passive house made of natural and recycled materials), Wood and Andraos experimented with thermal and structural mass. Rather than embed the building in the ground like an Earthship, they elevated it, using a weighty mass of adobe bricks to insulate the home. Orienting this thermal mass to the north, a slanted glass wall with photovoltaic panels faces south, its 35-degree angle running parallel to the stairs inside. An outdoor fire pit and garden atop the fireplace conveniently occupies the incongruous space created by the building’s two masses coming together.

Inside, the layout is organized with the private rooms—two bedrooms and a bathroom—embedded into the adobe brick mass, and the public spaces—including a kitchen, living-and-dining area, and greenhouse—in the glass-enclosed portion. The triangular shape and a series of screens and shades will help to circulate air and provideheating and cooling. “We’ve always been interested in systems and architecture that we can play and engage with,” Andraos said. “This ties all of it together in a microcosm: heat and cooling, air movement, water collection, and growing food and plants.” The division of space also allows the architects to play with compression, expanding from eight-foot-high ceilings in the bedrooms and bathroom to 18-foot-ceilings at the apex of the home.

Under the main house, parking spaces will be dug into the ground to further facilitate cool air circulation, and a workshop-toolshed will inhabit the column. The rest of the area is meant to be used as a deck. “It’s a very different kind of space under the house, but it still resonates with the traditional typology,” Wood said. “We’re trying to see how much we can float, so all of the furniture is suspended.”

Although the house will feature composting toilets and other sustainable systems, it is meant to be largely manual and will require the residents to interact with it. “We want to engage with that history of Earthship systems with an aesthetic that’s very ad-hoc, anti-architectural, and DIY, but bring a contemporary take to it.”

For more “Passive Aggressive” articles, explore: our feature article that features projects from across the world, Bjarke Ingels Group’s own tech-driven think tankour brief, unofficial history of recent passive-aggressive design, and MOS Architects' Michael Meredith on sustainability.

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Frank Lloyd Wright School works towards independence from Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

The Scottsdale, Arizona–based Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture is currently working toward achieving independence from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to maintain its accreditation as an institution of higher learning.

Architecture schools are required to be accredited by both the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), usually as part of a larger university, and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The HLC is responsible for overseeing overall standards of degree-issuing institutions in 19 states, while NAAB is only concerned with architecture schools. In 2010, the HLC updated its bylaws forcing all institutions of higher learning to be separate from any other larger institution, which does not have education as its primary mission. The Frank Lloyd Wright School is a division of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, meaning the school is not in line with the HLC’s current policies.

In a recent decision by the HLC, the school’s application for “Change of Control, Structure, or Organization,” a requirement for its continued accreditation, was denied. Working closely with the school, the HLC has asked for an updated application by November 30, which will be reviewed at its February board meeting.

“The response from HLC was never a matter of a disagreement with what was previously submitted. In consultation with their staff, we now understand the areas where they would like to see us flesh out our previous submission,” remarked Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation president and CEO Stuart Graff in a statement to the press. Graff and school dean Aaron Betsky have met with the HLC in order to understand the commission’s concerns and recommendations for their upcoming application. Both Betsky and Graff are confident the school is on the path to accreditation as an independent institution.

 

It is important to note that the school has not lost its accreditation, which is good through 2017, but it must prove that it is independent before that accreditation expires. The HLC’s criterion for accreditation dictates that “the governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous” and “the institution’s resource base supports its current educational programs.” This separation from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation greatly affects the school’s funding, much of which has come from the Foundation. In 2015 the school successfully raised $2 million dollars in order to become financially independent.

The school has been an accredited institution of higher learning since 1987, and first became accredited as an architecture school in 1996. The school’s NAAB accreditation is good through 2023. The Frank Lloyd Wright School offers a three-year Master of Architecture degree, which students pursue while splitting the year between the school’s Scottsdale, Arizona, and Spring Green, Wisconsin, campuses.