Metal Architecture Home

Reinforcing an Urban Edge

Drawing Board1

Groundbreaking for the Arizona State University College Avenue Commons in Tempe, Ariz., took place on January 24. The $54.5 million, five-story collaborative learning space will be the new home for the Del E. Webb School of Construction, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, university tours featuring a 200-seat auditorium, classroom and office space, a multipurpose community room, and the Sun Devil Marketplace. The 32,000-square-foot Sun Devil Marketplace will feature a coffee/wine bar and "grab & go" food options together with merchandise and technology.


Currently tracking LEED Gold, the 137,000-square-foot project will be located on the southeast corner of College Avenue and Seventh Street. Its location reinforces an urban edge creating pedestrian vitality and a connection to downtown Tempe and Mill Avenue. Phoenix-based Gensler and Tempe-based Architekton worked together on the design for the College Avenue Commons, while Gensler designed the Sun Devil Marketplace.


"The exterior palette for College Avenue Commons consists of glass, metal and stone," says Chris Kelly, senior designer with Architekton. "The first two floors are clad in sandstone, providing a durable finish and most importantly, making a connection with the original ASU campus buildings. But the majority of the design character is derived from the metal cladding and shading devices used on the balance of the project."


Kovach Building Enclosures, Chandler, Ariz., was brought onboard to provide design assistance, fabrication and installation services for all the exterior metal the project. This consists of two basic metal systems. The first, a 12-inch-wide interlocking aluminum panel, will be broken in varying shapes and depths to provide texture and shading to the surface. The second, aluminum composite material (ACM) panels, will be clad on the center building bar to differentiate the building's core functions.


Drawing Board2

Given Tempe's desert climate, one of the most critical functions of the skin and its components is to provide shade. The building is properly oriented east to west with its long exposures along the north and south. The architects are controlling the building's southern exposure by providing a second skin of interlocking aluminum panels, that are similar to the 12-inch panels used as cladding. The interlocking aluminum panels will be mounted to trusses holding it off of the south façade by 9 feet and running the building's full height. The second skin is designed with individual panels strategically removed or fabricated from perforated material to provide views and daylighting, while restricting direct exposure on the southern glass. This second skin or "skirt" also overhangs the pedestrian walkway, helping to provide protection to the Sun Devil Marketplace. As the skirt wraps around the building, the perforated panels transition into semi-transparent railings on the lower level balconies. Windows on the north are kept narrow in width and protected from early morning or late evening summer sun with 12-inch-deep vertical aluminum fins located on either side of the window.


"In the end, it will be the successful integration of long-lasting metal skins and shade structures that will define the character of this building as another iconic structure on the ASU campus," adds Kelly.


Expected completion date for the project is July 2014.


Arizona State University College Avenue Commons/Sun Devil Marketplace, Tempe, Ariz.

Developer: Arizona State University, together with Follett Higher Education Group, Oak Brook, Ill., for the Sun Devil Marketplace

College Avenue Commons Architect: Gensler, Phoenix and Architekton, Tempe

Sun Devil Marketplace Architect: Gensler, Phoenix

General Contractor: Okland Construction, Tempe

Fabricator: Kovach Building Enclosures, Chandler, Ariz.

Images courtesy of Architekton