The design for the Arizona State University Polytechnic transformed a decommissioned airbase into an inviting pedestrian campus that celebrates the desert landscape and creates a new identity for the program. Located in Mesa, about 30 miles southeast of Phoenix, the ASU Polytechnic campus was formed in 1996 with 1,000 students occupying repurposed buildings of the former Williams Air Force Base. By 2006, the school had grown to over 6,500 students and was expected to reach 10,000 by year 2010. Virtually every design decision in the process was driven by a desire to connect students and faculty to the Mesa desert landscape in a manner that would create a more sustainable and vibrant learning community.
By segmenting the 245,000 SF program into five high-performance LEED Gold-rated buildings, the design team devised a plan for four landscaped courtyards linked by a series of portals and arcades, creating a cohesive pedestrian campus district that engages students and faculty in a unique environment. The five new academic buildings more than double the academic space at the campus and house four distinct but interrelated academic colleges, providing laboratory and classroom space for engineering, physics, anatomy/physiology, biology, chemistry, technology education, math education, and the performing arts.