Project of the Year & Best Government/Public Building: Chandler City Hall, Chandler, Ariz.

Chandler has retained a distinctly suburban feel despite being part of the massive Phoenix metropolitan area. With Chandler City Hall and several other key redevelopment projects, the city is reinventing its downtown core, giving it a livelier, urban feel.

The 131,683-sq-ft city hall complex includes a six-story administrative office tower, City Council chambers and adjacent structures that house a production and recording studio for the city's television station and an exhibition gallery. A 360-space, three-story parking structure was also built as part of the project.

The city was able to finance the entire $47-million project without debt or bonds, says Marian Norris, assistant city manager. Since the guaranteed maximum price was based on 75% design-development documents, the cohesiveness of the project team was essential, says Fred Friedl, project manager with Sundt Construction Inc., Tempe, Ariz.

Once design documents were completed after groundbreaking, cost overruns were not only eliminated by adopting alternate materials and processes, but the team was "able to return cost savings from this original GMP so that the City of Chandler could pay for some added owner scope during the course of construction," Friedl says. By also using lean construction scheduling, BIM and other methods, the project team shaved $3.9 million from the original budget.

The project received LEED-Gold certification with features such as high-efficiency electrical and under-floor air distribution, high performance glazing and smart building layout. "We didn't just choose LEED for LEED's sake; it makes sense economically," explains Norris. "It's about fiscal responsibility; we want to be stewards for the taxpayers."

Many sustainable details helped save money and add an artistic flair to the project. "We were able to take everyday things and make them exciting," says Lori Buchanan, project architect with SmithGroup's Phoenix office. For example, a waterfall in the parking structure is actually an integral part of the HVAC system; it helps in the cooling process of the condensing water system of the chillers. The blow-down water from the cooling towers takes the heat off the chillers and circulates it up through the cooling tower on top of the garage. In most systems, that water gets dumped into the sewer system, but here, it gets captured and stored to supply the landscaping system and toilets, says Jonathan Silhol, SmithGroup's mechanical engineer.

Stone clads the office tower, while the bell-shaped council chambers feature back-lit frosted glass. Most striking is an intricate shading system on the western facade that faces Chandler's main street. Composed of 1,890 stainless-steel panels, the wind-animated structure is bathed in cobalt blue and red LED lighting, so that it shimmers at night as it moves. The installation was designed by the artist Ned Kahn.

The panels are perforated to allow light into interior spaces without excess heat. "Within the office floor plate, we created a very flexible plan," says Mark Roddy, SmithGroup design principal. "Ultimately, the city was looking for adaptability over time as departments shrink and grow; they can easily change the office environment without major construction."  

Submitted by: Sundt Construction Inc.

Key Players

Owner: City of Chandler, Ariz.

Contractor: Sundt Construction Inc., Tempe, Ariz.

Lead Design: SmithGroup Inc., Phoenix

Civil Engineer: Dibble and Associates, Phoenix

Structural Engineer: Caruso, Turley and Scott, Tempe, Ariz.

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