Project Completion Year
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United States of America
Tooker House is a case study on the impact of design solutions created for unique student groups. By working closely with the University and the Fulton Schools of Engineering, Tooker House exemplifies how a living/learning facility can be tailored to specific student needs with design elements created to further their social growth and development. The 458,000-square-foot building includes 1,582 beds, staff apartments, 27,000-square-foot dining hall, study and social lounges, fitness center, and a flexible classroom and maker lab.
The design team was presented with several challenges with regard to design and delivery. With a 28-month project schedule, collaboration and communication between the project team was critical to ensure that project goals were achieved, design and quality were not compromised, and that the delivery date was met.
Enhancing open space and allowing for pedestrian circulation through the site and building were top design priorities. By elevating the building’s mass above grade and organizing public-facing program elements along the ground floor, pedestrians can permeate the structure. A series of vertical terraces above the entry guides pedestrians to the path between the campus and athletics district.
The size of the program and resulting necessary building square footage required the designers to create a plan that could break down the scale of the building into smaller, more manageable pieces to encourage interaction amongst student residents. The two residential wings connect through a central, socially-focused nexus that contains the main vertical circulation for the building, as well as lounges, community kitchens, and laundry facilities.
Sustainable Design Intent and Innovation
Using the vernacular of desert architecture as its point of departure, Tooker House is a LEED Gold building designed to endure, and even leverage, the harsh climate of Tempe. As a reaction to its context, the building’s massing was developed through extensive shading studies on the constrained campus site. The complex’s figure-eight shape positions the two primary building masses in an east-west orientation, which allows the building to “self-shade” the interior student courtyards. This siting also ensures that solar control on the south facing façades is both highly manageable as well as visually expressive.
The southern façade incorporates U-shaped visors and an array of perforated vertical louvers. These solar mitigation components were realized per a set of algorithmic constraints with the intention of balancing visual interest with optimal daylight reaching each window. The massing also facilitates wind movement, with predominant winds from the east and the west flowing through the interior shaded courtyards to further cool the already sheltered public spaces. Perforated metal panels on the building’s bridges and breezeways further enable natural airflow throughout the building. Rainwater is harvested from the roof and nourishes select landscape zones in bioswales, reducing the reliance on potable water while also reducing the amount of underground piping and vault infrastructure.
Due to the intense solar characteristics of Tempe, understanding the radiation exposure on the south facing façades was key to the overall sustainable success and energy efficiency of the project. The inclusion of the perforated aluminum louvers was intended to mitigate the severity of this reality. While developing the design for the louvers, the designers established parametric design constraints by employing Grasshopper to conceptualize and analyze the impact of design decisions instantly. Via Grasshopper’s image sampler, louver heights, spacing, and rotations referenced a desert-inspired gradient created by the design team that aspired to cut solar radiation at the exterior façade and student windows. The gradient was conceptualized as a map for shading - painted to blanket student unit windows while Grasshopper functions "opened" and "closed" louvers accordingly via incremental rotations that responded to the grayscale of the gradient. As an integral part of this process, the design team utilized Ladybug to interface with regional climate files in order to analyze annual solar radiation reaching the façade. The numeric and color gradient output provided by Ladybug for both direct beam radiation and global diffuse radiation allowed the designers to evaluate the actual level of solar mitigation achieved by each design iteration. Ultimately, the final Grasshopper definition struck a balance between efficient solar control and visual transparency for the student residents looking back to campus from within their units.
The residential portion of Tooker House sources its cooling and heating through individual fan coil units, which are equipped with chilled water coils and an electric heating element. These fan coils receive ventilated air through rooftop make-up air units that host chilled water coils, gas furnaces, and fixed plate energy recovery heat exchangers. The dining hall is cooled/heated through single zone air handling units, inclusive of chilled water coils and gas furnaces.
Specific energy stats include:
• 18.7% energy use savings compared to ASHRAE 90.1 – 2007
• 14.3% energy cost savings compared to ASHRAE 90.1-2007
• 99.8 kBtu/sq.ft. Energy Use Intensity (EUI)
• 39% reduction in Energy Use Intensity (EUI) below regional average of similar building type (Architecture 2030)
Tooker House replaced an existing housing structure located at the terminus of the campus’ historic Palm Walk and fronting the “Beach,” one of the major green gathering spaces on campus. Connecting to and enhancing the site’s civic nature became a major driver for the planning, massing, and design of the project. The site lays between the main campus, Sun Devil Stadium, and Wells Fargo Arena; the design firm was challenged to develop a design that would allow for crowds to permeate the building. The design responds by undercutting the expansive southern façade, allowing pedestrians to intuitively flow under and through the building.
The program for the residential floors was also developed to support community and connectivity. Each floor hosts a variety of spaces geared towards social interaction and the flow of ideas amongst students. Lounges, community kitchens, and laundry facilities all become places for conversations, exploration, and discovery. In addition, the elevators are programmed to only stop on the floors with social lounges, further promoting social interaction. Within the rooms, each resident is provided with an Amazon Echo, while a corresponding building application tells residents about activities and programming taking place within the community.
Tooker House utilizes a passive water harvesting system in order to conserve as much water as possible in the desert climate. The underground storm water retention system consists of a series of storm drain pipes that collect runoff from the roof drains/surface inlets and outlet into an array of arched plastic chambers below the courtyard. Within 12 - 24 hours of the rainfall event, the storm water drains through the rock bed and infiltrates into the permeable layer of native sand and gravel soils approximately 10 feet deep. The depressed courtyard provides additional retention volume during a peak storm event and also features two surface runoff channels directly from roof drain outlets (runnels), demonstrating the collection of storm water to student residents. This rain water feeds into an underground cistern that stores water for use in irrigating the property. Additionally, the landscaping itself does not require much water as it is largely composed of native desert plants.
Relevant stats include:
• 46% reduction of indoor potable water use
• 50% reduction of designed irrigation system water use
• Over 80% reduction of outdoor water from baseline
Tooker House is highly visible from University Avenue, where a historic pedestrian bridge offers a commanding view of the building’s south façade. This south-facing façade is a balanced composition of sandstone and perforated aluminum louvers meant to anchor the facility within the larger campus context while engaging pedestrians with an expressive façade. The architectural character of the façade fully embraces its desert context.
The designer carefully selected the interior materials in order to ensure the highest indoor environmental quality possible. The interior LED lighting is controlled by occupancy sensing in conjunction with daylight sensing. Dimmer wall controls were utilized in all common areas, and a combination of LED lighting with local switching was utilized in the living units. The LED driveway/walkway, area, and decorative lighting is controlled by photo controls for all site lighting. The exterior courtyard special event lighting is normally off with an interval timer in conjunction with the photo controls.
In addition to incorporating environmentally friendly materials into the design, the design also worked to minimize the usage of interior materials through exposed ceilings and polished concrete floors. Minimal finishes and materials allow the building to become a teaching tool for its engineering residents by exposing the intricate layers of infrastructure such as plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and data pathways. The mechanical room is visible through a glass enclosure, with systems colored and labeled by function. This colored piping runs throughout the facility, reinforcing the educational component.
Additional sustainable stats on the materials:
• Selected when available from manufacturers located within 500 miles of the project (>13% by value)
• Selected when available with recycled products (>15% by value)
• Selected FSC wood products whenever available (>80% by value)
• Low VOC products were used for all interior sealants, coatings, paints, adhesives, and flooring products
• Wood with no added urea formaldehyde were selected throughout the project
Design Architect (FIRM)
Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB)
Exterior Wall Consultant