The Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health at Arizona State University   Tempe, Arizona, USA

The Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health, designed by Grimshaw and Architekton, is the latest addition to the interdisciplinary science and research district at Arizona State University's Tempe campus. It offers state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms, conference rooms and a new lecture hall to a constantly evolving research base at ASU.

The building’s form is the result of a rigorous design effort to negotiate site and climatic conditions unique to this project. The existing site featured a canal network developed by the indigenous Hohokam people of the valley for agricultural irrigation, a nitrogen line, campus gas, steam, and water lines and is also adjacent to light rail tracks, a light rail station and one of the busiest vehicular intersections in the state of Arizona.

In response, the building, sited at the gateway corner of campus, opens at the ground level to maximize wind, light, air and pedestrian flow into the central courtyard. A regenerative landscape strives to unite the whole project, creating a new gateway to the campus for the community, grounding the building in its Sonoran Desert and agricultural roots, solving circulation challenges across multiple modes of transportation and honoring a site rich in Tempe history.

Sustainability Case Study →

The Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health is home to a set of resident institutes with a wide range of research specialties, including the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS), Institute for Human Origins (IHO), Global Futures Initiative (GFI) and the School of Sustainability (SoS).The building was designed to maximize resources that could be shared by these groups, such as conference rooms, classrooms, break rooms and teaching laboratories, while tailoring more programmatically unique spaces ― such as narrowly-focused research laboratories and a high bay laboratory ― to individual need. The design team had to strike a careful balance between offering opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and providing an individual identity, or ‘front-door,’ for each stakeholder.

It is a strategic link between the research base at Arizona State University and the rest of the Tempe community, offering state-of-the art research facilities and a new campus amenity rooted in resiliency, site-specificity and inspiration.

Tempe, Arizona, USA

Project Type
Education →

In association with:

Arizona State University (ASU)



Bill Timmerman