Biotechnology Industry / Marlene Imirzian & Associates

© Timmerman Photography Inc

Architects: Marlene Imirzian & Associates Llc, Architects
Location: Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix ,
Construction Manager at Risk: Barton Malow
Lab Consultant: Design for Science
Structural: Paragon Structural Design
MEP: ESD – Energy Systems Design
Landscape: The Moore/Swick Partnership
Civil: Kland Huval Engineers
Audio Visual: Convergent Technologies
Cost: Rider Levett Bucknall
Client: Maricopa Community College District
Project area: 35,400 sq. ft.
Project year: 2009
Photographs: Bill Timmerman, Timmerman Photography Inc

© Timmerman Photography Inc

Phoenix, Arizona has a burgeoning Biotechnology industry and in order to help fill the demand for skilled employees the Paradise Valley Community College plans to double its Biotechnology Program. The new Life Science Building provides new instructional space, housing the college’s Anatomy, Physiology, General Biology, Biotechnology, Microbiology, Marine Biology and Environmental Biology Programs.

Throughout the development of the new Life Sciences Building, three major conceptual ideas led the design team:

plan 02


Create a major campus amenity and help foster campus-wide interaction by interlacing classrooms, a major campus walk, informal gathering spaces and a campus green under one roof. Facing the future campus green, this Big Porch creates an amenity for the entire college community and establishes a truly three-dimensional public space. The large, east- facing porch shades a gently sloping bridge, an extension of primary campus circulation, which connects the existing campus to the remote Athletic Fields and to the location of future campus expansion. This simple thread weaves the Life Sciences building and these peripheral facilities into the fabric of the campus.

© Timmerman Photography Inc


Develop a catalyst for innovation through collaboration. The series of eight exterior collaboration pods located under the Big Porch roof provide welcoming, informal gathering spaces. The various sized pods incorporate power, data, lights, marker boards, fans and furniture to create highly functional spaces that overlook a future campus green. Each collaboration pod is a different size and proportion and features a bridged connection back to the building. By presenting the pods along the main façade, the Life Sciences Building proudly presents its dedication to interaction and collaboration as a primary value of the sciences

© Timmerman Photography Inc
© Timmerman Photography Inc


Respond to the context of the site. It is of great necessity that the new Life Sciences building respond to the extreme temperatures and intense heat of the desert sun. The large “porch” roof shades the glazing and exterior spaces below reducing the temperature and making the exterior spaces usable for most of the year. The design team also sought to express the beauty and diversity of the Sonoran Desert. A learning Sonoran Desert xeriscape supports the Life Science program. Furthermore, water is scarce. That is why it was important during the design process to celebrate the seasonal monsoons that provide a majority of the desert’s water for the year. The canted roof and rainwater collection system’s design honors these infrequent storms. Playful, oversized downspouts activate when it rains. The carefully designed slots along the downspout act as a measuring device, indicating the duration and intensity of the ensuing rains. Water then runs down the exterior of the downspout where it lands above underground cisterns. The rainwater slowly percolates into the ground water, which helps enrich nearby soil rather than diverting it to the city sewer.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Biotechnology Industry / Marlene Imirzian & Associates" 24 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Scott

    Man, that is one big butterfly roof. Cool to see it actually funneling rainwater as part of the architecture. Must have been important to express this in the desert – showing conservation.

    Bringing some of the common areas outdoors is a nice move. However, the idea of transparency and screening in/out seems to have lost it’s idea in the laboratory area – there is hardly any natural light. The scheme seems to have been abandoned here. Great project aesthetically.

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