Arizona State University Polytechnic ISTB3

A biophilic facility for biodesign


Arizona State University


Mesa, Arizona


34,900 sq ft



Delivery Method




Project Team

Arizona State University purchased the decommissioned Williams Field Air Force Base with the vision to reuse the facility as a new home for the school’s innovative research. As one of the first new buildings on the renovated campus, Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 3 (ISTB3) responds to the building program and mostly vacant surroundings by turning its focus inward, creating spaces for students, faculty, and researchers to collaborate and promote cross-disciplinary interaction.

ISTB3 houses multiple research units, including applied psychology, plant-derived pharmaceuticals and applied biological sciences, each with unique and developing research programs. Built upon a standard lab planning module, the wet and dry laboratories are designed to adapt to the evolving needs of the university and each program. Infrastructure serving the labs is also designed for flexibility for seamless integration of new equipment and instruments.

Laboratories and offices collect around centralized social spaces and interior courtyards that bring daylight to the core of the building. Gardens within each courtyard rejuvenate researchers by reconnecting them with nature, irrigated with water harvested from the building and site. Common spaces foster a deeper sense of community and compel researchers to engage their work in new ways.

Precast concrete walls envelope the building and courtyards, perforated with a custom pattern inspired by the sculptural forms of artist and architect Paolo Soleri. These openings allow air to naturally ventilate the courtyards and diffuse the daylight entering into the laboratories, offices, and meeting spaces along the perimeter. The earthen tone of the precast panels contrast with the shimmering galvanized metal volume at the center, at once evoking both the desert soil and sun that define the site.

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