Cloud Song Center at Scottsdale Community College
Scottsdale, Ariz.
Best Project
Owner/Developer: Maricopa County Community College District 
General Contractor: Okland Construction 
Lead Design Firm: Architekton
Structural Engineer: PK Associates
Civil Engineer: Hess Rountree
MEP Engineer: Energy Systems Design
Landscape Architect: Colwell Shelor
Concrete: Suntec Concrete
Technology Consultant: The Sextant Group
Energy Systems Design: Dick Santistevan

The 31,000-sq-ft center has six classrooms for business students, an accounting and statistics learning center, eight faculty offices and student support space. It also features the Indigenous Cultural Center, which is dedicated to the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and includes a large meeting room, private study rooms and shared spaces dedicated to teaching Native American culture, history and current events.
In homage to a community tale of a lost child, a saguaro cactus rib design element was cast within the concrete panels. Each skeletonized saguaro rib was fastened to the reveal side of the formwork with a thin layer of sand brushed between the ribs to keep the concrete from submerging the entire rib. The sand kept the concrete closer to the back-side of the ribs giving more exposure to the face of the ribs once the formwork was removed. This produced more of a three-dimensional look where the ribs sit within the concrete wall. Construction workers strategically placed each rib prior to forming the 16-ft-high concrete panels.
Suntec waited approximately two months after pouring and tilting the panels before the burning took place. Crews used weed-burning torches to ignite the ribs and used a 12-in. metal scraper as a shield to prevent unwanted burning on the surrounding ribs.
“Each rib was carefully burned one at a time to ensure accuracy in the design. With the direction of the architect, we then proceeded to burn the remaining ribs,” says Saul Estopean, Suntec foreman. “This technique was quite challenging yet fascinating.”
Finding an adequate number of ribs was also a substantial challenge. This $975,000 project was finished in January.