SALT occupies a unique site in greater Phoenix, an unexpected waterfront location adjacent to Tempe Town Lake, which is the only sizable aquatic body anywhere within the famously arid Valley of the Sun. In this surprising setting, the architects saw an opportunity to create a design language that responded to the site’s lakeside location as well as its larger desert context, without resorting to clichés so often associated with such environments.
Covering 3.7 acres on Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe, the site is across from the base of Hayden Butte and close to Arizona State University. Condominium, office and hotel uses occupy locations just to the west, while a large office development was recently completed to the immediate east. With 265 luxury apartments on four levels, the building’s plan forms an open square that encloses a landscaped private courtyard and pool deck. Flanked by an allée of date palms, the plan is bisected by an axial boardwalk that leads from the building’s entry through to the waterfront. A second pool and resident amenities are aligned along the property’s northern edge adjacent to a lakefront public path.
Each façade is articulated by a repeating series of rectilinear stucco frames. Using a palette of white, muted grays, and dark navy contrasted with vivid aqua, the effect is clean and contemporary, with bold geometries that make the project both original and highly legible. Through the use of this distinctive vocabulary, the design successfully mediates between notions of both desert and waterfront architecture.
SALT is located in a semi-urban context and hot, arid climate. Despite these challenges, measures were taken to increase the potential for energy and resource management and encourage sustainable strategies. While the project’s developers elected to not pursue a sustainability certification, the use of energy-rated appliances and efficient mechanical and plumbing systems were supported. Aspects of the building’s architecture, such as the use of brise-soleil and roof overhangs actively reduce solar gain. Daylight harvesting techniques further reduce daytime energy usage where possible.
The project is designed to manage and reduce energy usage through various strategies, such as the use of efficient HVAC systems, solar-orientation, and the broad use of LED lighting. Thermal transfer is managed vis-a-vis efficient, insulated wall systems and performance-oriented glazing.
SALT is located in a largely car-dependent area, but encourages pedestrian and bicycle usage through its relationship to site and context. The project is oriented north toward the Tempe Town Lake pedestrian path and south to sidewalks along Rio Salado. Public transportation via bus is nearby. Ample bicycle parking is available to residents, along with direct access to the area’s bike-friendly infrastructure. The Valley Metro light rail system is less than one half mile away and provides access to much of the greater Phoenix region. According to WalkScore.com, the site has a walk score of 48, transportation score of 66, and bike score of 96.
Water usage is mitigated through extensive xeriscaping across the property. Additionally, low-flow toilets and faucets are used in all resident and common area fixtures. Permeable pavers are used to manage and control stormwater drainage.
Primary indoor materials, such as paint, wall coverings and flooring were sourced based on recommended VOC emission standards where possible. Many materials, such as stainless steel and cor-ten steel were selected to reduce the need for repainting or other maintenance.