Northern Arizona University Science and Health Building
Flagstaff, Ariz.  
Best Project

Owner/Developer Northern Arizona University
General Contractor Mortenson Construction
Lead Design Firm GLHN/richard+bauer, a joint venture
Structural Engineer Rudow & Berry
Civil and MEP Engineer GLHN Architects & Engineers
Subcontractors Ceco; Midstate Mechanical; Dial Mechanical; NJ Shaum & Son Electric; Ignace Brothers; Gen 3; KT Fab

Northern Arizona University’s $55-million Science and Health Building replacement facility in Flagstaff features laboratories, classrooms, faculty offices, lecture halls and a pedestrian bridge. The design for the five-story, 120,000-sq-ft building, on track for LEED Gold certification, emphasizes natural lighting and includes low-flow plumbing fixtures and xeriscaping. During the building process, contractors monitored, recycled or repurposed various waste materials. New finishes included low-volatile organic chemicals and recycled content, and they were locally sourced or manufactured whenever possible.

The building’s “Cave of Crystal Giants” atrium was built to resemble a nearby cavity in New Mexico. Local fire officials requested that developers test the system that would be used to evacuate smoke in case of fire by utilizing “hot” smoke. Because that testing method could damage finish surfaces and systems, the design and construction team used a smoke machine that produced conditions similar to actual fire and smoke to pass the local required tests.

Within the “cave,” designers hid systems within acrylic soffits. “Consolidating all of the MEP systems and hiding them within these soffits was a challenge,” says Ron Wilson, design phase executive with Mortenson Construction.

Design, construction and virtual design teams also worked together with trade partners to coordinate every detail of soffit construction and MEP systems by using building information model.

The building connects to the adjacent Building 17 by both a restricted access tunnel for moving chemicals and a pedestrian bridge for students.

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