Okland Construction Office Building, Tempe, Ariz.

Photo by Bill Timmerman
Outdoor spaces include a garden and courtyard with native plants.
Photo by Bill Timmerman
The LEED-Platinum building serves both as a calling card to clients and as a teaching tool for employees.

Okland Construction sought to create a more identifiable presence for its Tempe, Ariz., office while providing a campus setting in tune with the desert environment.

The judges felt the project succeeded at all levels. "The team elevated the potentially banal offices of a general contractor into an illustration of the craftsmanship and talent inherent to the company," says one judge.

Design inspiration came from an unlikely source: a defunct drive-in movie theater next door. Similar to the solid rectangular form of a projection screen floating above thin vertical supports, the new two-story office building features large rectangular expanses of glass atop—and between—thin concrete walls. Deep window recesses and programmable louvers control exposure to the Arizona sun but still allow maximum daylight into the interior. Metal panels frame the glazing on the upper level.

Since the general contractor is also the occupant, the LEED-Platinum building serves both as a calling card to clients and as a teaching tool for employees. It also allowed the firm to hone its already ample self-performing trade skills, from concrete to manufacturing furniture using recycled materials.

Interior surfaces such as board-formed concrete walls and a steel central stair show off natural finishes that also exhibit how they were assembled. Outdoor spaces include a garden and courtyard with native plants and a photovoltaic array installed over the pervious pavement parking area.

Despite the building's high level of sustainability, the project team didn't set out to attain LEED-Platinum status, says architect Phil Weddle. "The goal was to make the best decisions possible, balancing budget constraints and environmental goals, and then see where we landed."

The building gives Okland employees a new insight into how sustainable choices affect clients. "It was our own office, and so the decisions that we made would impact us on a daily basis," says Jordan Hoffart, project manager. "In the end, it has helped me appreciate LEED and sustainability from a different perspective."

Key Players

Contractor: Okland Construction, Tempe, Ariz.

Owner: Okland Construction, Tempe, Ariz.

Lead Design: Weddle Gilmore Architects, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Structural Engineer: Bakkum Noelke, Phoenix

Civil Engineer: Kland Civil Engineers, Phoenix

MEP: Associated Mechanical Engineers, Tempe, Ariz.

Electrical Engineer: Woodward Engineering, Tempe, Ariz.

Landscape Architecture: SmithGroupJJR, Phoenix

Subcontractors: TDIndustries, Tempe, Ariz.; Cannon & Wendt, Phoenix; Able Steel, Mesa, Ariz.; KT Fabricators, Chandler, Ariz.; TSR Contracting, Phoenix; Okland Construction, Tempe, Ariz.

Submitted by Weddle Gilmore Architects

Award of Merit, Green Project: ASU Lot 59 PowerParasol