From the mouths of babes.

Architecture students at the University of Arizona rebuke the fancy eco-architects who built the 2007 extension to their old and – compared to the new glass architecture building – reasonably sustainable brick architecture school building.

It’s some kind of best-laid green plans fable for our times that, as Tom Beal writes in the Arizona Daily Star

The 2007 glass-and-steel addition to the UA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture – promoted by the university as “a laboratory for sustainable practices” – is one of the biggest energy wasters on campus.

In its first year of operation, it used four times the energy of the comparably sized brick building to which it is attached. Its glass walls and unshaded, exterior cooling ducts, combined with design changes made to save money during its construction, make it difficult to heat and cool efficiently.

A “green wall,” designed to shade the building’s south side, has yet to grow.

The Tucson heat, seasonal glare, reflected light and noise from traffic on East Speedway blast through its north-facing glass walls. Students say the glare can be irritating and disorienting.

Well yes, glass buildings in Tucson… Of course, they can be made energy efficient, but a lot of things have to work. Like that green wall…

“It was a great idea and it’s worked in other places, and I’ll be damned if I can explain why those vines struggle,” said [the building’s architect].

The building’s architect claims that eco-considerations were not foremost in the building’s planning, but the article featuring his work on the extension (and based, one assumes, on an interview with him) touts eco stuff first thing.

There is a kind of pedagogical genius to the building.

In a sense, the building is living up to its description as “a working laboratory for sustainable practices.”

Master’s in architecture candidate David Tapia Takaki said it is providing plenty of problems for the students to fix.


Add noise pollution to its other problems.

One of the big problems on the north edge is traffic noise, said [a student]. “It’s the cars on Speedway. If you are there one or two hours, you will not notice, but stay there all day and it can give you headaches.”

The Speedway! Named America’s ugliest street some decades ago, it remains a noisy thoroughfare.


All in all, an embarrassment.

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6 Responses to “‘”That’s what happens when you build glass boxes in climates like this. They are not sustainable,” said Spiric.’”

  1. david foster Says:

    “No one is totally useless. You can always serve as a bad example.”

  2. Mr Punch Says:

    “I’ll be damned if I can explain why those vines struggle.” Isn’t Tucson more or less in a desert?

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mr Punch: Yes. I think the vines are burning.

  4. AYY Says:

    “Master’s” is it? Is the schoolmarm around anywhere?

  5. Michael Tinkler Says:

    Green walls. Green roofs. Madness. They have yet to invent a non-leaking sky light, so what the HELL are architects doing planting rooted-things on the roofs?

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    She’s busy working on a Masters.

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