Health Sciences Education Building, Phoenix, Arizona, United States


The Health Sciences Education Building’s (HSEB) copper-clad façade draws inspiration from the layering of stratified earth found in the surrounding rock formations of the Arizona desert canyons and mountains. The copper cladding creates a monolithic appearance which disguises the building program within. Sunshade projections, awnings which peel away from the main structure and dramatic openings carved into the façade to further reinforce the connection between the building and its natural surroundings. Copper is mined in Arizona and after post-consumer use, is recycled into architectural grade copper sheets which have been formed, bent, pressed and perforated into a variety of panel types to create a copper skin able to withstand Arizona’s harsh climate of intense sunlight and extreme temperatures.


The individual copper panel types have been optimised through the use of BIM and extensive full scale mock-ups to provide the appearance of randomness while maintaining a set number of panel sizes and configurations. The custom panels are fastened to the structure through standardised, thermally isolated connections allowing field installation to be consistent with regional project types. Configured as a truly multilayered rainscreen assembly, the façade provides continuous insulation, air and weather seals which mitigate the extreme outdoor temperature. The copper panels will naturally patina over time leaving an oxidised surface providing added durability and strengthening the relationship of building to environment.

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