Architekton's design for the new Chandler-Gilbert Community College Ironwood Hall is formed by three parallel bars of differing lengths, which are positioned to interact with surrounding buildings and existing pedestrian pathways. This layout allows for the creation of a central courtyard, which is protected from the sun by a 250-foot-long shade canopy. The project adds much needed new space to the rapidly growing campus and provides a distinctive, exciting and welcoming gateway to the North campus. The unique design of the building with its various indoor-outdoor spaces and interior study nooks serves as an extension of the traditional classroom and science laboratories while creating opportunities for students to gather and collaborate in non-conventional, contemporary settings. A myriad of sustainable materials and strategies work together to create a didactic LEED Gold building that reinforces the campus pledge to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.
The three parallel bars transform what was once a barren dirt lot into the capstone of the Chandler-Gilbert Community College campus. The unique mix of programs, including general classrooms, chemistry, physics, geology and engineering labs, a ceramics studio, and faculty offices, are arranged relative to a series of outdoor "rooms" and open spaces.
As part of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Chandler-Gilbert Community 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.
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 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.
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.
Ironwood Hall stands as a beautiful addition to Chandler Gilbert Community College's campus, highlighting the college's commitment to sustainability. The exposed ICF construction begins to tell the story of the building's design and construction, while narrative signage throughout the building details the projects' key sustainable features. Throughout the project, interactive display areas, communal social spaces, and mediated workspaces create a Place for students and a new paradigm for sustainable 21st century educational facilities. Using “commodity” products in unique ways to create a didactic LEED Gold building and celebrates the diversity of programs in the new lab and classroom building and the existing campus.
Two different profiles of commodity metal panels were used in combination to create a dynamic textured skin for the upper floor of the Ironwood Hall building. These interlocking panels are fastened to the outside of an ICF system over a waterproof membrane to create a rain screen system. Where the building notches on the south side to create glazed “alcoves,” the metal skin becomes perforated and continues past the alcove. This perforation allows for views out of the building, yet mitigates solar heat gain to the interior. Additionally, since the back sides of the panels would be visible from the interior, we worked with the subcontractor and manufacturer to have the panels produced without the standard “wash coat” which typically involves stamped numbers and letters on the reverse side of the metal panels. With this wash coat removed, the panels which pass in front of glazed alcoves have a uniform, monochromatic appearance.
Aluminum Composite Metal (ACM) Panels are used on the east and west facades of the building’s core volume. Similar to the commodity metal panels, the ACM Panels form a rain screen system over the ICF wall assembly. The east façade faces onto a shaded exterior courtyard, and the ACM provides a metallic backdrop to the green landscape elements of the space.
The central courtyard of Ironwood Hall is protected from the sun by a 250-foot long shade canopy. The primary steel structure of the canopy forms 18-foot square bays which are spanned by commodity metal c-purlins which are arranged in a varied pattern across. These patterned purlins form textural and dynamic shade patterns onto the courtyard grounds as well as onto the adjacent building walls as the sun moves throughout the day and throughout the year.