Taking the LEED
Tempe Goes for the Green on New Transportation Center
The city of Tempe's transportation department is looking
beyond encouraging bus and bicycle commuting to find new sustainable
In June 2006, the city began construction on a new 40,000-sq-ft
transportation center that it hopes will be LEED gold certified
upon completion in February.
"The project started out as just a 5,000-sq-ft building
to house a ticket store and restrooms for bus drivers,"
says Bonnie Richardson, AIA, LEED AP, the principal planner
and an architect with Tempe's transportation division. "In
looking and talking about it, we decided an urban plaza was
needed to integrate everything within the downtown while also
being the heart of our transportation system."
The result was a three-story structure at the base of "A"
Mountain that will house the transportation department, private
offices for lease and retail shops.
The site also contains a central bus plaza with 13 bays for
neighborhood bus routes and the FLASH bus that serves Arizona
State University and downtown Tempe.
Phoenix-based general contractor Adolfson & Peterson Construction
is building the masonry and steel-framed structure under a
$24.5 million, construction manager-at-risk contract.
The site will also abut a major station for the Valley Metro
Light Rail system, which should be operational December 2008..
The project will feature the state's first bike station, which
was developed in California and is essentially a secure, indoor
valet parking for bicycles, Richardson says.
The station will feature a double-decker storage system for
bikes and a repair shop.
Another way the city is encouraging alternative modes of transportation
lies in what the project doesn't have. "There is no parking,
which is pretty unique," says John Kane, AIA LEED AP,
design principal with Tempe-based Architekton, who co-designed
the project with Portland, Ore.-based Otak Inc. "It's
a truly multimodal building, with everything but the car."
There were some early snags at the site when, in accordance
with state legislation for all new construction, archeologists
investigated the site for ancient remains.
"It seemed like everywhere they put a shovel in they
Richardson says. "What we started out thinking would
be a six- to eight-week archeological investigation turned
out over nine months. The city was committed to making sure
we did it right."
Significant finds included ancient structure walls, floors
and hearths that are estimated to have been occupied from
A.D. 500 to 1450.
Contractors were able to minimize delays by working around
the digs and focusing on a portion of the site that had already
The city's police department, located just to the west of
the site, had a below-grade sally port used to transport prisoners
in and out of the jail where the new building was going. Crews
realigned the driveway and turned the sally port, which was
below-grade to begin with, into a basement for the new structure.
The project features a variety of sustainable building techniques.
One of the most prominent is the first green roof using native
plants to be attempted in the Sonoran Desert climate, according
"The green roof will have lush desert planting because
you want the dirt to be shaded as much as possible,"
says John Tomasson, project manager for Adolfson & Peterson.
"Otherwise it would absorb the heat and hold it in."
After extensive testing of various green-roof options with
the help of Arizona State University, Phoenix-based landscape
designer A Dye Design chose to plant drought-tolerant native
species such as bear grass and Rocky Point ice plant. "The
goal is that they will be self-sufficient without watering
once they are mature," Richardson says.
A 15,000-gal rainwater recovery system will provide water
for drip irrigation and for power-washing public plaza areas.
A separate grey-water system will recycle water from showers,
sinks and drinking fountains to refill toilet basins.
The building will utilize a high-efficiency central plant
mechanical system that will have an under-floor duct system
with individual controls. Coupled with the lack of interior
partitions, the ducts provide future flexibility for reconfiguration
of the office and leased spaces.
"For the size of the building, our drywall quantities
are extremely low because of all the open space," Tomasson
The building's core area, including restrooms, elevators and
stairwells, was purposely situated along the entire length
of the west-facing exterior wall. "This helps create
a buffer to the air-conditioned spaces and delays thermal
transmission," Kane says.
Designers utilized 'U'-shaped, self-shading masonry block
units to reduce solar gain.
Since the east face of the building will primarily be skinned
in glass, heat gain there will be mitigated by a metal panel
shade system suspended 10 ft away from the building.
"Occupants can adjust the panels, creating this active
façade so that the building will always look different,"
Upon completion, the project will serve as a prominent educational
tool to promote sustainable concepts. A monitoring system
will provide the public with real-time data on the building's
power and water usage.
City planners hope this and two other LEED-registered projects
currently under way will help foster private green development
in Tempe. "We are hoping this sets the standard so that
we develop policy in a positive way," Richardson says.
Owner: City of Tempe
Architects: OTAK; Architekton
General Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson Construction
LEED Consultant: Natural Logic Inc.
Subcontractors: DP Electric; Midstate Mechanical; Pete King
Construction Co.; Red River Contracting; Roma Masonry; W &
W Architectural Metals; Sunwest Landscape
Click here for next Feature Story >>