Arizona State Breaks Ground on Multipurpose Tower

By SCN Staff

PHOENIX—In partnership with Arizona State University (ASU), established architecture, and planning firm Studio Ma has announced the groundbreaking of the new ASU Downtown Phoenix Residence Hall and Entrepreneurial Center, a 16-floor residential tower with academic and interdisciplinary facilities. The innovation hub’s unique design expands community living space for up to 530 students and assists visiting professionals to connect organically with the city and regional business community through large windows and an urban paseo.

The new, 284,000-square-foot building also creates a resource platform supporting creative ventures among students, faculty, and alumni with local artists, businesses, and government agencies.

Studio Ma earned the commission through a highly competitive process led by Capstone Development Partners, a national leader in student housing development and management. Studio Ma was recognized and selected for its “committed leadership, familiarity with the university and market, and ability to push the envelope on design and sustainability while maintaining all budget and performance parameters.” Rounding out the project team is DPR Construction, another longtime partner of Arizona State University, as the design-build provider.

Drawing on deep experience with diverse institutions, including Cranbrook, Princeton, and Washington University in St. Louis, Studio Ma’s work presents students and faculty with a new way of working in the arts and design. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2021, the transformative downtown complex will set the stage for the university to cultivate new entrepreneurship research.

Employing an innovative design concept that brings academic space and student housing under one roof, the team envisaged a 16-story innovation hub concept consisting of 13 floors of student housing above three levels of academic space. The innovation hub will be wrapped in a bioclimatic façade designed to minimize energy use and glare from the desert sun, conceived with simulation software that Studio Ma is beta-testing in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The angular façade in ultra-high-performance concrete and metal panels and floor-to-ceiling windows—materials also used for the residential tower exteriors establishes a striking and memorable icon for the city.

Yet the ASU Downtown Phoenix Residence Hall is more than a multi-purpose facility. The team also met challenging zoning and infill site conditions with an innovative massing and layout that offers a valuable east-west pedestrian paseo connecting the community to the new complex.

In addition to helping the university meet a minimum green-building rating level of LEED Silver, the new building optimizes indoor environmental quality in all spaces including high-tech fabrication rooms and studio areas where sensitive materials and equipment are used. Geared toward such academic programs as industrial design, fashion and popular music, the innovation hub consolidates a range of entrepreneurial and community-focused programs from across ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design & the Arts. Entrepreneurial center facilities include a mix of studios, classrooms, offices, exhibition and event spaces, as well as fabrication and workshop areas with specialized equipment and environmental systems.

The work promises to make Phoenix among the first U.S. cities with a university activated downtown space dedicated to collaboration across creative fields, organizations and market sectors, according to the project team. “The Studio Ma team rolled up their sleeves along with our design-build partners to create an innovative and sustainable building design, that involved multiple constituents and stakeholders, while optimizing the project budget and being steadfast in maintaining the schedule, despite evolving project and program requirements,” says William Davis, executive vice president of Capstone Development Partners, the public-private partnership (P3) developer.

Other recent works by Studio Ma for Arizona State University have included the award-winning conceptual design for ISTB-7, the 258,000-square-foot, interdisciplinary science and research complex designed as a triple-net-zero facility and lauded as “a new generation of sustainable design solutions that are climate responsive and employ regenerative technologies.” The architecture firm has also led Arizona State University’s designs for various major campus transformations, including their Sun Devil Fitness Complex and the acclaimed Memorial Union Plaza student complex.

The groundbreaking for ASU Downtown Phoenix Residence Hall and Entrepreneurial Center also heralds the arrival of next-generation sustainable construction on university campuses, showcasing Studio Ma’s capacity to design for a greener, more resilient future. The result is a thriving hub of enterprise at Arizona State University and an environmentally attuned showplace for students, the local creative economy, and entrepreneur development.