How a Phoenix law office underwent a sustainable renovation
“Being super green doesn’t have to break the bank,” says Christopher Alt, principal architect at Studio Ma, a Phoenix-based firm that recently completed an adaptive reuse project in their hometown. “It’s good to remember the greenest buildings are the ones that are already built.”
A formerly unspectacular office space is now home to Phoenix Law Group. The updated space embraces light, openness, sustainability, and connectivity, and Studio Ma’s design sets an example for the future of workspaces where offices aren’t subjugated to the confines of walls and divisions between coworkers and clients. Studio Ma challenged traditional office design by providing Phoenix Law Group with abundant daylight using skylights, openable windows, and workspaces with plenty of interior windows.
Money and sustainability drove this project, and Alt says Studio Ma was able to create a structure that exceeded expectations. Because this project adapted an existing structure, the highest carbon-producing elements were preserved, including concrete slabs and concrete masonry walls.
The exterior of the building is made almost entirely of domestically sourced, rapidly renewable pine, combining a bio-based liquid with thermal treatment, making it more sustainable than most wood choices.
Daylight and air circulation were major points of the project’s mission. Steel and glass interior doors and window walls were custom designed and engineered and locally fabricated by Falcon Designs. The interior also incorporates aluminum and glass storefront systems by Arcadia. “Passive design principles achieve a great deal, ” Alt says. “Daylighting reduces energy requirements for illumination, and operable skylights add to the openness and natural daylight while creating a chimney effect that circulates cool air toward work areas and flushes hot air out of the roof.”
Wool felt wall paneling is incorporated for sound absorption and acoustic attenuation, in light and dark gray as well as with dark blue accent “ribs.” Flat-seam blackened steel wall panels are installed in the foyer.
“Incorporating the mezzanine area and the exterior roof deck without going over budget created a significant challenge for us as designers, but we knew what it would mean for the client firm to have this amenity, and how it would positively impact the overall value,” says Alt. This area includes a fitness center that can also be used as a meditation room. Adding these features aligned with the mission to promote health and wellness for the employees.
Studio Ma maintained its commitment to uplift the health and wellness of the building’s occupants by acknowledging the condition of indoor air quality; they chose to use materials such as zero-VOC paints and formaldehyde-free materials and systems.
Despite the sustainable success of Phoenix Law Group’s office, this is only a starting point. “Working on this project confirmed that in Phoenix and beyond we can do a lot more to go beyond environmental sustainability, and lead the way to more net-zero-energy Class-A commercial space.,” Alt says.
Project: Phoenix Law Group offices Location: Phoenix, AZ Completion: November 2019 Size: 6,100 square feet Cost: $2.63 Million Architect: Studio MA General Contractor: Caliente Construction MEP: Peterson Associates Consulting Engineers Structural Engineer: Pangolin Structural Landscape Contractor: OnSite Landscape