Arbol de la Vida Hall

Tucson, Arizona

Cool Canyons

This building, which translates to "Tree of Life",  is one of two complexes that make up the 6th Street Residence Halls, student housing for the Honors College at University of Arizona. In architectural character, Arbol is modeled after the "cool canyons" of the desert southwest. Slot canyons admit a high level of light during the daytime hours, but use their thermal mass and depth to provide habitat and passive shading during the day and heat-shed, passive cooling and thermal conduction during the night. To express this concept visually, as a way of storytelling on the facade, iconic imagery from Antelope Canyon in the northern-most part of the state was used. This slot canyon is characterized by narrow, undulating rockforms, with textural gradients: perfect artwork for an Ombrae surface. Arbol de la Vida would go on to receive LEED certification at the Platinum Level, with the efficiency largley coming from its site and climate-appropriate design, ground water management, daylighting, and daytime thermal mass. 

Client: University of Arizona
Architects: NAC Architecture
Size: 2,000 sqft (185 sqft)
Completion Date: 2011

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