Arizona State University Thunderbird School of Global Management

The global headquarters for a fourth industrial revolution


Arizona State University


Phoenix, Arizona


111,000 sq ft



Delivery Method



Tracking LEED Platinum

Project Team

The Thunderbird School of Global Management was founded on a decommissioned airfield in Glendale, Arizona, rising from the shadow of the Second World War with a message that “borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers.” For decades, the prestige of the institution was only matched by the breadth of its alumni network, until the shifting business education landscape necessitated a rethinking of the school’s fundamental independence and campus on the fringe of a sprawling suburbia. By joining Arizona State University and moving to its Downtown Phoenix campus, Thunderbird reinstates its position at the vanguard of international business leadership with a new headquarters grounded in an emerging global hub.

The new global headquarters serves to connect the history of the school and its alumni with current students and faculty as they face the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Four interconnected, two-story spaces guide visitors from urban plaza at the entry up through the building, telling the story of Thunderbird in reverse. Starting at the ground level, the Global Forum opens out to the plaza, inviting visitors and passersby to engage with the dialogue through technology and public space.

Each floor offers another heritage lounge that connect students and faculty with the legacy and global impact of the school while providing spaces for quiet study, meeting, and collaboration. Finally, the rooftop Pub celebrates Thunderbird’s founding principle of human connection and the traditions of the historic campus with views to the city skyline and surrounding mountain ranges to the south. In their responses to the changing orientation to the sun and surrounding city moving up through the building, these spaces deepen the connection to the school’s new Phoenix home.

The exterior of the building also engages with the surrounding city through its material expression and the spaces carved out along the street edges. Clad in Arizona sandstone hung above a transparent ground level, the south and east facades define the edges of the city block it shares with the adjacent Beus Center of Law & Society. The west and north facades contrast with silver metal and striking shade louvers, denoting the relationship of the school’s history and its future and framing the Global Forum’s connection to the plaza.

The ground level is open, porous, and accessible to the community, set back deeply to create outdoor rooms beneath the shade of the building above. Recessed gardens fed by captured rainwater and woven into the site temper the surrounding plazas, creating cooler micro-climates along the building’s edge. In this desert urban city, these gestures integrate Thunderbird into its community and invite the world to see its next chapter.

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