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Academic Excellence

Mcn  Project Feature  Feb17 1

University building sets high-performance standards

Northern Arizona University's (NAU) new Student & Academic Services (SAS) Building is a 94,444-square-foot, four-story structure abutting to the University's existing San Francisco street parking garage in Flagstaff, Ariz. The site is located near the heart of the NAU Campus in close proximity to public transportation and centralized campus utilities. The facility houses a one-stop shop for current and prospective student services, which includes undergraduate admissions, the office of the registrar, financial aid and student accounts, among others.

It is also the new home of the Lumberjack Mathematics Center, with programs that combine in-class and multi-modal laboratory instruction facilitated by mediated classrooms, a testing center, conference rooms, independent study areas, departmental suites, a 154-seat auditorium and 156 faculty offices. "The Admissions Welcome Center provides a fantastic first impression for visiting prospective students and their families," says Chris Phillips, assistant director of the center.


Environmentally Conscious

Having attained LEED Gold certification after initially targeting Silver, the architectural character and sustainable strategies of the SAS Building, "Celebrate many of the unique attributes of its surrounding natural and institutional environments," says Mark Dee, principal-in-charge of the project and executive vice president at DWL Architects + Planners Inc., Phoenix. "Specifically, the building's exterior draws its aesthetic inspiration from the biologic forms of Northern Arizona's extensive ponderosa pine forests and the intrinsic character of the existing campus architecture."

Internal spaces employ distinctive volumes, natural forms, inductive circulation and local colors to foster a sense of place that is unique within the academic environment in which it is located. The first floor is elevated above the recorded 100-year floodplain to minimize issues associated with potential flooding. Native and adapted plants, along with zoning low-water use species together help reduce total water for irrigation by 74.5 percent. Sixteen percent of the building's materials and products were extracted, harvested and manufactured regionally, within 500 miles of the project site. Its civil engineer and landscape architect was The WLB Group, Phoenix.

Several off-site utilities, including steam, chilled water and reclaimed water were brought to the site for utilization in the new building. A heat exchanger room on the first floor allows connects the building to the campus chilled water and steam loops for utilization in the HVAC system. The main mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems are located on the first floor and in the penthouse, and are distributed throughout the building by way of a utility spline at the rear of the building. A snowmelt system was incorporated throughout the exterior of the building.

"The design of the building's exterior envelope and mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems constitute direct energy savings in response to the harsh environmental conditions associated with this project's high altitude," says Jenia Lynn, project manager at DWL Architects + Planners. "It is designed to passively react to its orientation on-site. Heat gain from the west is minimized by smaller windows; northern and southern openings are maximized to bring daylight in."

The facility has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy for its efficient use of lighting. It has received two awards in the department's Interior Lighting Campaign: Best Use of Lighting Controls in a Single Building and Exemplary Higher Education Sector Site. "All lighting uses LED technology, and can be controlled with dimmers and sensors that adjust illumination levels based on whether a space is occupied or the amount of daylight available," says Dee. "Individual lighting controls, dimmers and occupancy sensors were installed in all occupied rooms to promote productivity and comfort. Efficient lighting has reduced energy consumption by 78,000 kilowatt hours per year."

Lynn says other successful strategies for introducing natural light include large skylights, floor openings, light wells, windows at the ends of corridors, internal glass walls and glass doors installed throughout all occupied user areas.

"The NAU Student and Academic Services Building efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come," says Rick Fedrizzi, former CEO and founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).


Educational Envelope

Metal constitutes the building's primary external protective enclosure. One of the project's primary goals was, "To find a product for the façade that could not only withstand the weather in Flagstaff, Ariz., but that could express our design vision and reflect the aesthetics of the ponderosa pine forest," says Lynn. "We explored several options but ended up selecting metal panels due to the flexibility and aesthetic capabilities. The metal panels could showcase the diagonal pattern we designed that was intended to reflect the forest landscape."

This metal rainscreen varying in shape and color uses a blend of earth tones mixed with metallic and copper. The panel reveals abstractly replicate the needles and pine cone patterns found in the surrounding forests creating a visual experience that harmonizes with the existing campus architecture. Logistically, the small, one-acre site posed significant challenges for staging, but metal overcame this problem. Remote fabrication and just-in-time delivery prompted quick and easy installation, staying on schedule and meeting the owner's needs.

The general contractor was Hardison/Downey Construction Inc., Phoenix. "The exterior skin of this building is very unique in that it is not a typical rectangular geometry," says Brad Sullivan, project manager at Hardison/Downey Construction. "This required extensive coordination for the placement of all exterior elements such as windows and also backing and supports for attaching the finished metal panel product. The metal skin is a first layer of defense for all weather on the building with the true waterproofing being installed between the metal panel system and the sheathing on the building. The entire metal panel system is connected using a clip system and filler pieces are installed between each panel which creates a surface that completely hides and protects the waterproofing."

There were several factors that made the project unique. "The panel design included different reveal sizes, multiple angles, different shapes and multiple color choices consisting of four copper colors and an accent gray color," says Pat Brackney, director of sales/estimating at True Metal Solutions, Phoenix, the building's metal installer. "Each panel had to be custom made with no two panels alike. Due to the unique customization of the panels, we had to fabricate a special clip for the 2-inch reveals." Brackney cites three phases of installation:

 • First mobilization: the building envelope, which included installing underlayment, base trim and window flashing prior to the windows being installed

• Second mobilization: zee's and insulation

• Third mobilization: aluminum composite material (ACM) and single-skin... and single-skin metal panels


Metal Attributes

In addition to speed of installation, low-cost and long-term durability and design flexibility, the metal will be able to withstand the area's searing summer heat and harsh winters. The high solar reflectance values of the exterior envelope were essential to the building achieving its planned sustainability standards.

The metal rainscreen forms a non-insulated exterior mounted on 18-gauge bare z-clip channels over a commercial wrap underlayment with 2-inch rigid board insulation. The metal panels are wrapped over metal studs at 16 inches on-center. The metal is 4-mm, fire-rated core aluminum composite material (ACM) with 2-inch diagonal reveals, and 5/8-inch vertical and horizontal reveals. Aluma-Kor, Phoenix, provided the multicolored aluminum composite planks, which True Metal Solutions fabricated into an ACM panel system. Rollfab Metal Products, Phoenix, provided the raw material for the flashings associated with the ACM panel system.

The design utilizes an earth tone color pallet with copper accents and metallic accents. The exterior finishes for the ACM panels include three shades of custom copper metallic paint as well as a standard dark silver gray. The coating thickness for the KYNAR 500- or HYLAR 5000-based PVDF resin is 1.0 mil (±0.2 mil). "Rollfab Metal Products acted in support of the design team and the subcontractor to facilitate the custom colors that were desired on the project," says Jim Wilkinson, operations manager at Rollfab Metal Products. "The architectural team designed this building with a metal exterior skin in mind. The team was able to make the building modules such that they maximized the use of the raw materials in a very effective manner. The multiple colors and the pattern work well to develop a low percentage of material waste, without compromising the design elements."


Sidebar: Northern Arizona University's Student & Academic Services Building, Flagstaff, Ariz.

General contractor/builder: Hardison/Downey Construction Inc., Phoenix, Architect: DWL Architects + Planners Inc., Phoenix,
Civil engineer/landscape architect: The WLB Group, Phoenix,
MEP engineer: LSW Engineers Arizona Inc., Phoenix,
Structural engineer: Caruso Turley Scott Structural Engineers, Tempe, Ariz.,
Metal installer: True Metal Solutions, Phoenix,
Aluminum composite material: Aluma-Kor, Phoenix,
Metal panels: Rollfab Metal Products, Phoenix,