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Health Care

Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building, Phoenix

Photos: Bill Timmerman Photography Inc.
Photos: Bill Timmerman Photography Inc.

Copper is a prominent material on the Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building (BSPB) at University of Arizona’s Phoenix Biomedical Campus. CO Architects designed the folded copper panels to refer to striated geology of surrounding mountains. The panels reflect light and cast shadows like canyon walls.

An appearance of naturally occurring, random patterns was created with 26 panel types arranged in multiple combinations. The cladding system uses about 4,800 formed, bent and perforated copper panels.

With a collaborative process, CO Architects used building information modeling (BIM) to generate 3-D models of each panel type. Parametric software generated algorithms for a randomized sequence of panel types. Then, Kovach Building Enclosures fabricated the panels in a series of full-size mockups. KME America Inc. supplied approximately 295,000 pounds of cooper for the exterior, which was fabricated and installed by Kovach Building Enclosures.

The copper-clad exterior serves as a shield, protecting the interior from direct solar exposure. Adapting rainscreen technology, the design team took a system typically used in the Northwest and created a way to utilize copper cladding as a sunscreen. It is an integrated system of copper panels, 2-inch air space, rigid insulation and waterproofing membrane that absorbs radiant heat and allows it to vent out through the top of the building.

BSPB is the second phase of a two-phase project. The first phase included the interdisciplinary Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB). The copper cladding is locally sourced and contains 90 to 95 percent recycled material, which contributed to its LEED Silver certification. The 245,000-square-foot project was completed in January 2017.