Paradise Valley Community College

Powerfoil at Paradise Valley Community College

Project: Paradise Valley Community College Life Sciences Building, Phoenix, Arizona

Firm: Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects

Product: Eight 8-ft (2.4-m) diameter Powerfoil® fans

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“I had Big Ass Fans in mind very early on, as soon as I started doing the conceptual thinking of the space. I knew I wanted to move air and have it exposed, not concealed. They work very well in the space and with the overall building.”

Marlene Imirzian
Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects

Project Summary

An old dirt field has come to life, quite literally, as the new Life Sciences Building on the Paradise Valley Community College campus in Phoenix, Arizona. Maximising use of the outdoor space, the large overhang houses staircases, hallways and learning pods on the exterior of the building. This additional shading minimises the amount of air con needed to keep the facility cool. Following suit, eight Big Ass Fans installed in the east façade provide the cooling effect required for comfort. Architect Marlene Imirzian, no stranger to the need for air movement in this hot desert climate, said, “I had these [fans] in mind very early on, as soon as I started doing the conceptual thinking of the space. I knew I wanted to move air and have it exposed, not concealed.”

Not only do the fans fit well with the masonry and copper exterior of the structure, but they “work with the concept of exposing mechanisms,” said Imirzian. Unlike small, high velocity fans, Big Ass Fans circulate a huge amount of air, making occupants feel up to 10°F (5.6°C) cooler.

Along with the use of locally sourced materials and xeriscaping around the facility, the fans also fit the sustainability mold by utilising very small motors. The large sloping roof employs a white coating to reduce solar gain and is equipped to collect rainwater, which is then directed to an underground cistern. Beneath the roof and the fans, the cluster of exterior pods provide space for informal collaborations, small group study or simply a place to relax in the otherwise unforgiving Sonoran Desert.

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