Health Sciences Education Building / CO Architects

Health Sciences Education Building / CO Architects

© Bill Timmerman © Bill Timmerman © Bill Timmerman © Bill Timmerman + 17

  • Contractor, Preconstruction, Construction Manager at Risk

    DPR Construction • Sundt Construction, Inc., a Joint Venture
  • Landscape Architect

  • Lighting Designer

    Kaplan Gehring McCarroll Lighting
  • Structural Engineer

    John A. Martin & Associates
  • MEP Engineer

    AEI Engineers
  • Civil Engineer

    Dibble Engineering
  • Climate Engineer

    Transsolar Energietechnik
  • Geotechnical Engineer

    Professional Service Industries
  • Fire Protection/Code Consultant

    Rolf Jensen & Associates
  • Loading/Vertical Transportation Consultant

    Lerch Bates
  • Audiovisual Technology

    The Sextant Group
  • Cost Estimator

    Davis Langdon
  • Owner - Client

    Arizona Board of Regents
  • Users

    University of Arizona; Northern Arizona University
  • Budget

    $187 million (includes $99 million construction cost)
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© Bill Timmerman
© Bill Timmerman


The University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine-Phoenix, in partnership with and Northern Arizona University (NAU), is creating a new model for an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to health sciences education and research. Innovative in this endeavor is the collaboration and merging of these programs from two universities with distinct institutional cultures on one campus—Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix.

© Bill Timmerman
© Bill Timmerman

The Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) is part of the inter-institutional campus for health science education and research, and supports the colleges of medicine, allied health, and biomedical informatics. The new 268,000-square-foot, six-story facility consists of administration and faculty offices, lecture halls, learning studios, flexible classrooms, student and faculty services, clinical skills suite, simulation suite, gross anatomy facilities, class laboratories, learning resource center, cafeteria, student lockers, group study rooms, conference rooms and miscellaneous building support. HSEB and future research buildings are connected by a north- south structure that houses public functions and spaces for the occupants of these facilities as part of an effort to ensure that educators, researchers, students, and teachers meet and encourage an interdisciplinary approach to pedagogy and research.

© Bill Timmerman
© Bill Timmerman

A key characteristic of the program is a model of collective resources shared by the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix, the UA College of Pharmacy, and the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, as well as by Northern Arizona University’s College of Health and Human Services programs. An interactive planning process, which involved educators from the cross-section of health sciences disciplines, has worked collaboratively to create an educational vision of a team- based continuity of care model.

© Bill Timmerman
© Bill Timmerman


The program and building design were developed by CO Architects to support an independent and collaborative health sciences education and research campus on a 28-acre urban setting in downtown Phoenix. The design for the Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) draws inspiration from Arizona’s mountains and canyons and responds to the desert climate, characterized by intense sunlight and extreme temperatures. The siting of the building originates from the master plan by Ayers Saint Gross that establishes a north-south central campus green connecting the historic buildings to the south with future research facilities to the north.

1st Floor Plan
1st Floor Plan

The Arizona desert climate and need for reduced energy consumption informs much of the design for HSEB, from the siting to the fenestration. The facility is organized into east-west wings connected to a north-south axis establishing the eastern boundary of the campus. The building’s form and its orientation result from efforts to minimize the intense effects of the Arizona sun.

© Bill Timmerman
© Bill Timmerman

South-facing façades combine overhangs with perforated screens that function as sunshades; extensive studies of the window locations and the program requirements for the internal spaces informed the fenestration pattern as well as the shading devices. Vertical fins control sun penetration on the north. The wings are inflected to self-shade the walls and to create east-west “canyons.” Space between the two wings is tall and intentionally narrow. Windowless east and west façades are incised to create north and south fenestration. In the canyon, there are more glazed openings at the lower level with fewer windows near the top. Natural light is harnessed to flood the lower portions of the canyon with light. The canyon is clad in light-colored, burnished concrete block to provide cool thermal mass and reflectivity. At the top of the canyon is a PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) scrim roof that helps regulates sunlight penetration. Exhaust air from the buildings heating, and cooling systems flow into the canyon because the exhaust air temperature is lower than the ambient outside air and therefore helps to cool the outdoor space. The project is targeting LEED®-NC Gold certification.

© Bill Timmerman
© Bill Timmerman

The canyon metaphor also applies to the materiality of the building. To connect the built environment to the surrounding landscape and bring nature into the heart of downtown Phoenix, the color and patina of the building skin draw from the peaks and mountains prevalent in Arizona. The striations of the surrounding mountains are abstracted by folding the building’s copper skin creating a visual connection to the surroundings.

6th Floor Plan
6th Floor Plan

HESB provides a range of established-to-vanguard skills-based and simulation settings that sustain the gamut of health sciences inter-professional training programs. This complex provides learning environments to train 1,200 medical professionals. It will also serve as a learning and teaching resource for the research community.

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Project location

Address: The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, 550 East Van Buren Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Health Sciences Education Building / CO Architects" 01 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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