Richärd Kennedy Architects

Richärd Kennedy Architects

Phoenix, AZ

Sunset View
Sunset View
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Bryant Bannister Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, University of Arizona

Program + Mission

The Bryant Banister Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research is the world leader in Dendrochronology Research. The new 35,000 SF building is the centerpiece for the Tree-Ring Laboratory, housing a myriad of advanced research laboratories, faculty, and research offices, support and processing spaces. A primary function of the new building is the consolidation of irreplaceable wood sample archives into the renovated 21,000 SF building adjacent to the new structure.

Concept + Image

The building design is an abstraction of the forest structure: a columnar stand of trees with an overstory of filtered shade. Steel columns are randomly clustered and are expressed for their full forty-foot height. This tree-like building is permeable on the ground floor, which houses exhibit and outreach spaces, opening this prized collection to the public, a major goal of the project.  The simple steel structure will be supported on trunk like column structure, and shaded by a laser cut veil of aluminum, shielding the building from the hot desert sun; the existing building will provide a green roof platform for conferencing and breakout space. The natural materials chosen for the building envelope are simple, used innovatively, generating significant cost-savings, and require no maintenance eliminating costly upkeep.

The architectural solution for the new building and modernization of the existing building, on the tight site was to lift the new structure above the existing structure maximizing interaction and adjacency of the researchers. Elevating the building allowed for ideal faculty and research lab organization. The existing building will house the bulk of the Tree-Ring archives; the large open footprint is ideal for open shelving. The building contains the existing archive with a 100% increase, doubling the capacity of the current archive. The lower level will be utilized for compact shelving and traditional open shelving.

Functional Objectives

Laboratories are located along the southern edge of the building for vibration control, and to maximize the open lab configuration allowing connectivity and collaboration in the new labs. Lab support is located internally within the laboratory block for adjacency, and to allow for a view into the labs from the corridor. Faculty offices flank the east and west while allowing the big “picture window” view of the Catalina Mountains from the floor to the open plan. All perimeter spaces utilize clerestories to get maximum daylighting to the interior. The ground floor contains a double-height lobby and exhibit areas. Adjacent to the archive, the lobby features elements from the collections. A large multipurpose room is directly accessed from the lobby. The exterior plaza was configured for exterior exhibit and gathering areas for faculty and student use.

Operational Objectives

Of equal importance to the storage and preservation of the collections is the desire for the new archive building to be emblematic and serve as the visual presence and public image of the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research for the University   of   Arizona   campus, the   visiting   public, and research community.  In part, the building will function as a “museum” exhibiting artifacts, as well as informational and artistic displays based on the research, collections, and over 80 years of rich history the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research has accrued to both educate and create public interest.

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Status: Built
Location: Tucson, AZ, US
Firm Role: Design Architect
Additional Credits: Civil Engineer: Dibble Engineering
Structural Engineer: Rudow & Berry, Inc.
M/E/P Engineer: Energy Systems Design
Landscape, and Environmental Architect: SAGE Landscape Architecture
Integrated Facility Design and Audio-Visual: Jeremiah Associates, LLC
Photography: Frederick

Dendrochronology Lab
Dendrochronology Lab
Laboratory Area
Laboratory Area
Dendrochronology Lab, Alternate View
Dendrochronology Lab, Alternate View