The Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health → at Arizona State University was officially opened and named during a building dedication on 19 April 2022.
The new facility, located at the southwest corner of Rural Road and University Drive in Tempe, Arizona, is a 281,000 square foot research center housing interdisciplinary leading-edge research, including work on the sustainability of food, water, and energy.
Designed by Grimshaw in partnership with Architekton, the center includes public outreach and exhibition spaces, a conference center, and a 389-seat auditorium. It brings together transdisciplinary research institutions and initiatives ― including the College of Global Futures, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, and the Institute of Human Origins ― to help bridge programmes and knowledge from historical research to future innovation. This model of the ‘New American University‘ ― of academic excellence, research and societal impact ― was established by the Arizona State University President Micheal M.Crow.
Responding to and reflecting the research purpose of the center, the design of the building takes its cue from its context ― the climatic conditions of the Sonoran Desert and the historical and traditional footprint of the land. A triangular site, the center wraps around with a central courtyard enabling a tempered, shaded outdoor space students, research and visitors. Elevated terraces, connected by exterior stairs around the courtyard, link to the facilities of the center including the laboratories, conference spaces and offices. The exterior of the building’s façade, facing the street, takes its form from the self-shading properties of the saguaro cactus: high performance glass fiber reinforced concrete panels are tuned to the solar orientation for optimized energy efficiency, daylight, views and comfort.
The building achieved LEED V4 Platinum certification which will help Arizona State University achieve its triple net zero ― energy, water and waste ― performance goals through regenerative and bioclimatic technologies.