Science and Health Building

Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, Arizona

NAU’s new Science and Health Building provides modern science teaching facilities and state-of-the-art, flexible research laboratory space. The GLHN|richärd+bauer joint venture team designed a building that mimics the forms of a geode. On the exterior, metal panels of different shapes and sizes are cut at an angle, resembling the layers revealed when a geode is cracked open. Inside, a curtain wall expresses the jagged nature of a crystal and wraps along the interior of the structure. The use of acrylic and light in the atrium continue the crystal theme.

The project site is located along a major north-south cross campus pedestrian and bicycle route known as the Pedway. The design team was tasked with developing the site with a connection to an historic quad located northwest of the Pedway. The design solution that evolved consists of two bars that connect to form a v-shape with an atrium located between the bars. The atrium allows daylighting to flood the building interior and allows views to the north towards the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks.

The “lab/classroom bar” includes lecture halls, classrooms, and teaching labs. Research labs with chemical delivery and storage are also located in this part of the facility. The “office bar” runs parallel to the Pedway and houses offices and classroom spaces. This bar is raised to allow pedestrian flow from the Pedway both into the atrium and to cross the site to the northwest towards the historic quad. A below grade tunnel and a bridge at the third level connect to the Chemistry Building located north of SHB. The tunnel use is restricted to delivery of chemicals while the bridge allows both students and faculty access between buildings.


System design was based on a Total Cost of Ownership approach and includes high standards of energy efficiency, low maintenance and long term durability to minimize life cycle costs. Mechanical systems include a heat pipe exhaust air heat recovery system, low velocity distribution ducting, variable air volume laboratory ventilation with significant unoccupied turn down, and dedicated outdoor air ventilation systems for classroom, lecture halls and offices. Electrical and IT system design was intended to provide ample future capacity and flexibility to adapt to changing research needs, high efficiency lighting and lighting control and extensive use of USB receptacles.

LEED Gold Certification

The project was awarded LEED Gold Certification in 2017. One fifth of SHB’s LEED Gold certification was based on water efficiency – a recognized high priority in this region. The team achieved all water efficiency points including exemplary performance and regional priority credits by reducing potable water use by 78%, incorporating and using grey water for flush-fixture usage and temporary irrigation of water-wise, native landscaping.

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