Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration (ISTB4) / Ehrlich Architects


© Ehrlich Architects

Arizona State University’s new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB 4) was designed to be a progressive home for ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) and some departments from the Fulton Schools of Engineering (FSE). At 294,000 sq.-ft., this seven-story “smart” structure will be the largest research facility in the history of the university. In addition to cutting-edge laboratories and research offices, ISTB 4 will house extensive public outreach and K-12 education spaces designed to engage the Greater Phoenix community in earth and space exploration. Ehrlich Architects’ new Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration is a clearly organized laboratory building that will enhance the research, science and educational programs housed within.

© Ehrlich Architects

In keeping with ASU’s policy of building all new facilities with LEED certification, the design-build team is striving for LEED Silver (or better) despite the challenges posed by the construction of a facility with budget restraints and complex air-handling and power requirements.

© Ehrlich Architects

The ground level houses a public educational outreach gallery that is connected to the building’s entrance lobby. With a highly-mediated state-of-the-art 250-seat auditorium, large arcades and shaded entry, this will become an important gathering place to communicate the exciting activities within to the larger community and campus.

© Ehrlich Architects

The goals of collaboration are paramount to the design. Scientists and engineers will meet within the five-story, naturally-lit atrium (starting at the third floor) on a series of “living rooms in the sky”. The atrium will serve as a bridge between labs and offices, encouraging chance encounters. This vessel of natural light will connect all of these floors visually, psychologically, and physically with open stairways, lounges and meeting spaces. There will be a higher level of security within these levels.


Exterior materials will reflect the clarity of the building’s organization as well as their dynamic and kinetic composition. Northern light will be brought through high performance glass into the office areas. The Western façade of the office block will have a double skin that will modulate the intense sun.


The vertical shafts that serve the laboratory block and service corridor will be clad in a warm and rich hue of locally-sourced red brick which will relate to the bio-design building. Envelope design and material selection have been carefully studied to achieve the highest level of energy efficiency, sustainability and value; the project is targeting a LEEDTM Gold rating.

Architect: Ehrlich Architects
Executive Architect: HDR Architecture inc.
Location: , Arizona
Project Year: 2013
Contractor: SUNDT Construction
Structural Engineer: Paragon Structural Design Inc.
Mechanical / Electrical / Plumbing Engineer: HDR Inc.
Civil Engineer: Dibble Engineering 
Life Safety Consultant: Rolf Jensen & Associates
Energy Modeling Consultant: Quest Energy Group
Vibration Consultant: Colin Gordon & Associates
Lighting Consultant: KGM Architectural Lighting
AV/IT/Acoustics/Security Consultant: Sextant Group
Signage: JRC Jamie Cowgill
Geotechnical Consultant: Speedie & Associates
Images: Ehrlich Architects

Cite: Lopez, Oscar. "Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration (ISTB4) / Ehrlich Architects" 21 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • Tosh

    Looks like a great project. In terms of urban design it seems to fulfill most of the requirements and the main court is really interesting architecturally. Good job for the creators!