Central Arizona College Maricopa CampusHonor Award - General Design
With a focus on integrated design SmithGroupJJR completed the campus master planning, architecture and landscape architecture for the Central Arizona College – Maricopa Campus. Lying within the Gila River Valley several of Arizona’s rivers have allowed Maricopa to thrive – The Gila, Santa Cruz, Verde and Santa Rosa. Native Americans utilized these rivers, arroyos, bajadas and valleys to establish farming in the area. Agriculture allowed the area to thrive and the railroad made Maricopa a destination. Today, agriculture in the area is challenged by drought and increased evapotranspiration rates resulting in a decline of farm size leaving behind dusty fields and erosion. Previously an agricultural field, the Maricopa Campus creates a relationship with nature through an understanding of climatic conditions and the sensitive desert ecosystem. The sustainable prototype focuses on climatic influences overlaying solar, drainage and wind angles to guide the orientation of the campus. The site design provides a unique desert experience featuring a network of shaded pathways, green screens and desert gardens. A utilitarian vernacular respects the heritage and the history of the Gila River Valley and Maricopa. A palette of rammed earth, concrete and cor-ten steel forms collaborative outdoor learning environments including an amphitheater, student quadrangle and shaded seating areas providing a connection to nature proven to increase academic performance, reduce stress, enhance health and improve cognitive abilities. The landscape provides ecological benefits by reintroducing valuable habitat, increasing biodiversity, reducing erosion, replenishing soils and cleansing storm water reversing the negative impact of the vacant land. Hundreds of native Sonoran Palo Verde, Ironwood and Velvet Mesquite trees throughout the campus provide valuable habitat, food and cover for native wildlife that can now be seen across campus. Throughout the landscape design numerous species historically utilized by the Native American community are displayed including nut producing Jojoba fields.