Wexford Arizona State University Biomedical Campus Innovation Center
Case Study

Wexford Arizona State University Biomedical Campus Innovation Center A Biomedical Job Catalyst Inspired by Desert Landscape

Phoenix, Arizona, USA

The Challenge

Real estate company Wexford Science & Technology and Arizona State University, in concert with the city of Phoenix, enlisted HKS to increase educational attainment and scientific discovery in the city by designing and embedding a world-class biomedical facility in downtown Phoenix.

The Design Solution

Located within ASU’s downtown campus, the Wexford Phoenix Biomedical Campus Building 1, known as PBC1, expands the downtown biomedical corridor to the northern edges of the urban core. Designed to straddle the line between the academic and professional worlds, the building offers opportunities for meaningful collaboration among the building tenants and the community at large. The building’s design purposefully invites the neighborhood to participate in its success through ground-floor design elements that are visually porous and accessible.

PBC1 was inspired by the saguaro cacti, which are native to the Sonoran Desert ecosystem that straddles Arizona, California and northwestern Mexico. This plant species provides food and shelter for many desert animals. PBC1 is a modern architectural metaphor of this iconic plant. Like the saguaro, the building façade combats the arid climate conditions with geometric ribs that shade the structure and help mitigate the effects of the extreme solar radiation. Desert temperatures can swing by more than 50 degrees from daytime to nighttime. The materials used for the exterior are primarily concrete, weathered steel and brick, which are slow to warm up during the day and dissipate the heat. Glass is used sparingly.

Meanwhile, the site’s landscape uses xeriscape techniques, eliminating the need for supplemental water from irrigation within five years of construction. The simple design on the outside extends to the interior, creating a rugged aesthetic that reinforces the stark and elegant beauty of Arizona. All decorative design was stripped down, reinforcing the “bootstrap” mentality in the startup world, where some entrepreneurs look to fund their own ventures. User spaces are iterative layouts curated by the users as they like it.

The Design Impact

This biomedical building is part of a projected $3 billion investment in life science and health care projects with the potential to create 7,000 jobs in Phoenix. About 40 percent of the jobs at PBC1 will not require a four-year college degree. In addition, the building supports not only the science and technology community but also the local art scene. PBC1 integrates public art for both permanent and rotating exhibitions, boosting the local government’s downtown revitalization efforts. The building achieved LEED Gold certification.

Project Features

  • 240,000 square feet (22,296 sqm)
  • Biosafety Level 1 (BSL-1) labs
  • Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) labs
  • Wet and dry labs
  • Retail space
  • LEED Gold certification