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ASU Health Futures Center combines a novel design and approach to learning

The trapezoidal shape of the building is an eco-friendly feature.

May 16, 2019 |

All renderings courtesy CO Architects

The notion of open learning environments in higher education is trending, leading to the design of more collegiate buildings worldwide that are meant to remove barriers between students, faculty and disciplines.

Arizona State University’s Health Futures Center riffs on this popular design and educational idea, aiming to be a connecting place for interdisciplinary innovation, research, and medical simulation. Ground recently was broken on the facility, which is located adjacent to the Mayo Clinic campus, in northeast Phoenix.

The $80 million health care services facility will have a flexible framework, meant to support research and collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and ASU. The 142,000 SF building project’s groundbreaking was in April 2019; it is expected to be completed by late 2020. It is the first building on a new campus for ASU.

The building is meant to bring together the university’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, College of Health Solutions, and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, together with some shared programs of the Mayo Clinic.

The project was designed by CO Architects and DFDG Architects. CO Architects has expertise in developing such “hybrid” learning environments as is planned for the ASU facility.



“Our goal with ASU’s Health Futures Center is to create opportunities that maximize interdisciplinary collaboration and research in partnership with Mayo Clinic Phoenix, to help meet the mission of improving health outcomes,” says Jennifer Knudsen, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal at CO Architects.  “Our team designed the building to support a range of evolving interdepartmental research activities, industry partnerships, and teaching models through flexible, innovation-ready spaces.”

The under-construction building’s planned trapezoid façade is meant to decrease glaring from sun exposure on the structure’s east and west sides.


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To speed work on the aggressively scheduled project, the CO/DFDG team collaborated with DPR Constriction’s pre-construction team, by way of the construction Manager at Risk method. The collaboration spawned a predictive cost-analysis tool, helping the project’s stakeholders prioritize needs and wants before the schematic design phase. This approach enabled the teams to design a building that fit needs and desires, and which will be within budget.

Through using Dassault Systemes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, the project’s designers streamlined and simplified the visual representation of the building’s complex geometry, enabling stakeholders to understand the structure’s design benefits.

CO Architects is the design architect, master planner, simulation planner, interior designer and laboratory planner for the building. DFDG is the project’s executive architect.  DPR Construction is general contractor, ASE is serving as the structural engineer, Wood Patel is civil engineer, Jeremiah Associates, LLC, is performing AV/IT and acoustical, AEI Affiliated Engineers, Inc. is MEP engineer, and Floor Associates is performing landscape work on the project.

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