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  • Arizona Contractor & Community

Architect Rachel Green Rasmussen explains why SCC's business school building, currently under co

From incorporating cactus ribs into the building to calling on the natural landscape nearby as part of the design, we wanted to get to know the thinking and work involved in the new Scottsdale Community College Business School buildinging, which will include the Indigenous Scholars Institute

Rachel Green Rasmussen, who is an architect at Architekton, which is a designed the building, said, "This building strives to serve a purpose that is missing in most buildings being constructed today. There is a vernacular to our land, to the way we build, to the way we engage one another that is specific to this place.

"With the universal progress that we see happening today, it is easy to forget where we have been. The building serves as a reminder and a moment in the understanding of the SRP-MIC (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian) community that invites users to take a moment to pause and discuss, if even just for a moment, where we are, where we have been and where we are going.”

She answers our questions:

Q: What were the biggest challenges in creating the new Scottsdale Community College business school?

A: From the beginning of design, the user groups expressed the desire for equal but unique identities for the business school and the Indigenous Scholars Institute. Although simple in concept, the building also aesthetically wanted to appear to be of the same language and material. Creating different identities for such disparate user groups became the core challenge and opportunity for shaping a unified building

The design that evolved offered us the ability to organize and allocate space in a push/pull methodology that allowed for the business school to have a physical connection and presence toward the campus to the west and the Indigenous Scholars Institute to have a visual connection to Red Mountain and the SRPMIC (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) to the east. Both elevations offer strong relationships to the exterior for a connection to a significant amount of outdoor space for community events.

Additionally, both the business school and the Indigenous Scholars Institute have varying finish selections on the interior of the building to further create a subtle visual differentiation between the two programs while maintaining a cohesive approach to the overall building.

Q: When did the project start?

A: The project design started in October of 2015 with construction beginning in March of 2017.

Q: What construction companies were involved with the project?

A: Okland Construction is the CMAR that have been part of the team from the design stages and are now building the project. The core team consists of Jerry Greer, Morgan Pew and Damian Herman.

Q: What are some big-name architects that were involved?

A: The architect for the project was Tempe-based Architekton. The project team consisted of John Kane, Tom Reilly, Rachel Rasmussen, Daniel Childers, Eric Sterner, Glen Wollenhaupt, and John Cahoon.

Q: What was the goal of this new building?

A: First and foremost, the project is about creating a dynamic educational environment for students on campus. The business school aims to support collaboration among faculty and students to support the continued success of their program. Beyond this functional requirement, this building and its surrounding grounds makes known to those who see, use and visit it, that this college is committed to the education of and service to Native American students, tribes and community members. As such, it affords all students the opportunity to learn about indigenous peoples – from pre-historic and historic times, to tribal communities of today. This building will support many functions for all students, but will be a ‘campus’ home for the activities, the stories, the displayed talents of indigenous peoples.

Q: How were the cactus rib casts made?

A: The saguaro rib design element was a collaborative effort between the architect, contractor and subcontractor. Iterative in approach, the saguaro rib element took 8 mock ups before the design and construction method were completed and slated for construction. The method was nothing unfamiliar, but the material and burning were less unique and unprecedented. We organized the saguaro into the formwork and placed sand between the ribs to not allow for the concrete to seep onto the face of the saguaro. After the tilt panels were cast, Architekton and Suntec Concrete worked together to define which saguaros would be concealed, removed, or burned ultimately giving the final result that you see on site today.

Q: Why was this picked as a cultural aspect in the design?

A: The belief for many people of the SRP-MIC community is that the living saguaro is seen not as a cactus, but rather an ancestor, a spirit, a symbol of life. By burning an unliving saguaro, one that has otherwise moved onto another stage of life, the saguaro (or spirit) is being released. The design of the cast saguaro ribs celebrates the releasing of spirits, while the imprint that is left from the removal serves as a reminder of the importance of this plant to the community.

Q: How do you want this design to make students feel?

A: The thesis of the building is a place to tell stories and a place that tells stories. The design was created in the hopes that the building would create a snapshot of the current-day understanding of where the SRP-MIC community is heading, where they are and where they have been. With that, the space was created with many elements that hopefully evoke memories for some and provoke questions for others promoting story telling among its visitors.

Q: What made you combine the Business school and indigenous scholars institute?

A: The opportunity to have both the Business School and the Indigenous Scholars Institute in one building reinforced the ultimate goal of this project. Students who otherwise may have not visited the Indigenous Scholars Institute and students who otherwise may have not visited the Business School will now be exposed to each other in the hopes that the two will work together to become aware and ask questions that will create meaningful conversation.

Q: How big is the new building?

A: The building is 31,500 square feet.

Q: How much did it cost to construct it?

A: The construction cost was $11.2 million.

Q: When is the deadline on when you would like to finish?

A: The project will be completed in April of 2018.

Photo 1- Architect team on the SCC project

Photo 2- SCC Business School

Photo 3- Construction process

Photo 4- Plan diagram

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