Originally published in Interiors & Sources

08/22/2012

Tech Meets West

The new Chandler City Hall, designed by SmithGroupJJR, pays homage to the city’s agrarian roots while meeting the needs of a 21st century workforce.

By Robert Nieminen

 
  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_1.jpg

    The compact main lobby of Chandler City Hall visually connects the courtyard to the street; the east and west façades are made of perforated stainless steel panels that move with the wind. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_2.jpg

    The compact main lobby of Chandler City Hall visually connects the courtyard to the street; the east and west façades are made of perforated stainless steel panels that move with the wind. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_3.jpg

    The use of glass throughout the facility, including the staircase framed by Meltdown Glass seen at right, expresses a sense of transparency and openness, and integrates Chandlers innovative tech-driven industries. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_4.jpg

    The use of glass throughout the facility, including the staircase framed by Meltdown Glass seen at right, expresses a sense of transparency and openness, and integrates Chandlers innovative tech-driven industries. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_5.jpg

    An outdoor mezzanine is covered by the lifted office building, which contains an open plan with glass front offices to allow for ample daylight throughout the narrow floorplate. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_6.jpg

    An outdoor mezzanine is covered by the lifted office building, which contains an open plan with glass front offices to allow for ample daylight throughout the narrow floorplate. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_7.jpg

    Where offices were required on the exterior wall, such as the mayor’s office seen here, views to the outside were still maintained. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_8.jpg

    The council chambers function as a community living room, and have been designed for council meetings, lectures, movie screenings and small performances. They feature a warm color palette and ceiling panels by Armstrong. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_9.jpg

    The bridge between the floorplate and the offset core forms the typical floor lobby; Gunlockes Converge conference table and Allsteels Relate work chairs provide a contemporary aesthetic for meeting spaces; low-height panels from Allsteels Stride systems line create a sense of openness and allow for greater daylight penetration. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_10.jpg

    The bridge between the floorplate and the offset core forms the typical floor lobby; Gunlockes Converge conference table and Allsteels Relate work chairs provide a contemporary aesthetic for meeting spaces; low-height panels from Allsteels Stride systems line create a sense of openness and allow for greater daylight penetration. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_11.jpg

    The bridge between the floorplate and the offset core forms the typical floor lobby; Gunlockes Converge conference table and Allsteels Relate work chairs provide a contemporary aesthetic for meeting spaces; low-height panels from Allsteels Stride systems line create a sense of openness and allow for greater daylight penetration. View larger

  • /Portals/3/images/magazine/2012/0912/I_0912_Web_PE_Chandler_20.jpg

    View larger

SOURCES | CONTACT

 

Urban sprawl is often (and not-so-endearingly) referred to as the bane of our modern society—and rightfully so. Standing in stark contrast to smart growth, sprawling suburban communities have been linked to social ills that run the gamut from increased pollution, traffic congestion and obesity to segregation and increased reliance on fossil fuels, and city planners seemingly give little thought to historical context when approving land use plans for neighborhood development.

There are exceptions to the rule, however, and the city of Chandler, Ariz., is one of them. Settled in the 19th century, Chandler is representative of the “New West”—areas that have been predominantly agricultural but are now home to high-tech companies and the more affluent knowledge workers they employ. Officials envisioned the new city hall as a modern complex that would serve as a gathering destination for the nearly 250,000 residents of this community without abandoning its rich history.

The urban design and site strategy for the new Chandler City Hall began with the idea of creating connections between the existing civic campus and the historic downtown core. It was also important to reinforce pedestrian-friendly activity around Dr. A.J. Chandler Park by extending it south to the City Hall site. The project takes a radical departure from typical suburban planning by placing the new complex in the heart of Chandler’s historic downtown—a stark contrast to many communities that try to create “new” city centers in fast-growing areas.

“We talked to the client about the project—this idea from a metaphorical standpoint—trying to balance the culture of that community,” says Mark Roddy, AIA, principal and design director of SmithGroupJJR. “They have a long-standing history of agriculture and really being connected to the land, but Chandler is also a very high-tech community. Companies like Intel, Covants, Microchip Technologies and others are there, so there’s a really strong knowledge worker base. It’s interesting: you’ve got this mix of agriculture, ranchers and high-tech workers, so there’s a kind of dichotomy.”

As a result, the Phoenix offices of SmithGroupJJR designed an elegant, yet appropriate building to serve this diverse community. The 137,700-square-foot, multi-purpose complex creates a sense of place and identity to encourage activity and interaction between visitors, while also reflecting the surrounding terrain. The facilities include council chambers, administrative offices, a public television studio and a 330-space parking structure.

onceptually, the design unites the city’s past while acknowledging the future. “We really looked at the materiality of the building—we wanted to express something that felt like it was rooted in the landscape but also something that was very technology-driven,” Roddy notes. The stone exterior of the facility makes a clear connection to its natural surroundings, which is contrasted by a “glass box” office building that “floats” above on columns, he explains. “So there was this expression of the dichotomy of the two, but still having it all kind of woven together.”

The office tower has been oriented to maximize north and south exposure while minimizing east-west exposure. Passive shading strategies were utilized on the south and west facades to block direct heat gain during the summer months and allow for some penetration during the winter. Approximately 80 percent of the complex’s regularly occupied spaces are daylit, and glass abounds from the offices to the staircases, which are framed by products from Meltdown Glass.

“All the conference rooms have glass fronts; the offices have glass fronts—even the mayor’s office—so that there’s borrowed light throughout the entire space,” Roddy explains. “So it was obviously a very democratic kind of experience, but from a sustainability standpoint as well, it’s allowing views to daylight for everybody. That really was the focus of the office planning.”

Prior to the opening of the consolidated facility, Roddy says some of its client’s offices were leased and dispersed throughout the city; the council was meeting in a library space that doubled as a meeting hall. As a result, the council chambers became a focal point of the project, and are now an iconic centerpiece in the complex. Clad in translucent glass panels, the structure glows like a lantern at night.

“We actually referred to [the council chambers] as kind of the living room,” he recalls. The interior finishes, including perforated acoustic ceilings by Armstrong and bamboo wall paneling from Teragren give the space a hospitality-inspired aesthetic. “It goes back to the notion that they didn’t have a space that was truly dedicated as a council’s chambers. The warmness of the bamboo and the color of the fabric on the chairs, the carpet really all made it a comfortable, inviting space to have meetings and do business.”

The chambers were designed with flexibility in mind, and are meant to be a multi-use space, according to Roddy. That presented a unique challenge in terms of lighting strategies. While the space is primarily used for council meetings and committee gatherings, the council chambers are also opened up for small events including film screenings and musical performances—all of which have completely different lighting requirements.

“The council chambers are fairly complex in terms of lighting strategies. Each one of those [activities] has a different kind of lighting quality, and on top of that, council meetings are typically broadcast on television. So trying to balance out the quality of light that’s comfortable for people, and then have the appropriate lighting for broadcasting or filming television—they’re really two different things,” he points out.

Other dramatic lighting elements and the large-scale integration of art supported the city’s desire to convey a sense of community, safety and beauty. SmithGroupJJR collaborated with artist Ned Kahn, who combined science, art and technology to create an installation titled, “Turbulent Shade.” This original work of art, commissioned by the city, is actually a kinetic façade that moves with the wind while doubling as a second skin, shading the building from the desert sun. 

According to Roddy, the installation is made up of a series of perforated stainless steel panels that are 6 inches wide by 21 inches long, held off on two studs that allow each of the panels to move independently. “So as the wind blows, the façade actually changes,” giving the building a dynamic appearance that is constantly evolving.

The city was also passionately committed to exploring sustainable design strategies for the new complex, which is seeking LEED-NC Gold certification, in order to set an example for the community.

“[Sustainable design is] really a new way of thinking,” says Roddy. “Most people probably think of architecture as shelter or just a place, and we’re really emerging in this time now where you really need to be thinking of architecture as a tool—our buildings as tools, or as instruments.”

The multi-story office tower is predicted to use 35 percent less energy than a similar new building, while also exploiting natural light. Creative water solutions respond to the desert region and have resulted in an overall potable water savings of 92 percent. The interiors feature underfloor air distribution, individual control of lighting, and a flexible, open office environment that improves indoor air quality and optimizes comfort for occupants.

Contrary to surrounding communities that have developed city functions in growing areas, Chandler redeveloped an existing urban site to promote density, pedestrian connections, and to “lead by example” for future development.

“Great buildings come from great clients,” Roddy says. “The client pushed us the whole way, and I think they have everything to do with this fantastic result.”

 

SOURCES:
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2
3
4
 
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2
3
4
 

acoustical system
Sonex


ceilings
Armstrong | 7


chairs
Allsteel
Harter
Krug


fabrics
Knoll


flooring
Advance Terrazzo
Amtico
Arizona Concrete | 1
Daltile
InterfaceFLOR
Karastan
Masland
Nevamar


furniture
Allsteel | 2
Gunlocke

 

Nevins


glass
Meltdown Glass | 6
Viracon


interior walls
Teragren


lighting control systems
Crestron
Hubbell


lighting
a-light
Amerlux
BEGA
Beta LED
Brightline
Color Kinetics
Edison Price Lighting
Electric Mirror
Elliptipar
Gotham
Mark Lighting
Peerless

Solar Synergy
WAC Lighting
Winona
York Lighting Co.
Zumbotel
Zurn Lighting


masonry, concrete and stone
Superlite Block


millwork
Cosentino | 4
Formica | 4
Mockett
Pionite


paints & finishes
Benjamin Moore | 8
Dunn-Edwards


paneling
3form
Knoll
Teragren

plumbing and water systems
Kohler
Sloan
Zurn


seating
Hussey Seating | 5


skylights
Solatube


special surfacing
Sonex
Tectum


tables
Gunlocke
Nevins


tiles
Daltile


wall coverings
Belbien | 3
Designtex


windows and doors
Curries

 

CONTACT:
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client
City of Chandler
175 S. Arizona Ave.
Chandler, AZ 85225
www.chandleraz.gov

project team
architect | interior designer
SmithGroupJJR
Arizona Center
455 North Third St., Ste 250
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 265-2200
www.smithgroupjjr.com

structural engineer
Caruso Turley Scott Inc.
www.ctsaz.com

civil engineer
Dibble Engineering
www.dibblecorp.com

general contractor
Sundt Construction
www.sundt.com

landscape architect
GBtwo Landscape Architecture
http://gbtwo.com/

public art
Ned Kahn, Catherine Hammond

photogrphy
Bill Timmerman

 

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


 
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