NPR | This building was designed to withstand future heat waves

Paradise Valley Community College’s Life Science Building | Photo by Bill Timmerman


Marlene Imirzian was interviewed by Here & Now for a piece on her approaches to sustainable design in a desert landscape, especially at a time where Arizona temperatures continue to break records. The new Life Science Building at Paradise Valley Community College and HomeNZ, the net-zero energy home sponsored by the City of Phoenix, served as the focal point of the discussion.

The two projects are prime examples of architecture that address the current climate crisis and adapt to its conditions while providing outstanding design of spaces, exterior activity, and community connection.

Life Science Building

The Life Science Building is a vision of what science can be for the community – a catalyst. The building teaches by example with its climate driven sustainable solutions for the built environment. A large roof canopy and collaboration pods create a dynamic public portico that provides a shaded campus connection, engaging building entries and primary circulation that is protected from direct sun. The campus walkway becomes a pedestrian bridge, floating lightly above the desert landscape. Paving is limited so that heat generated from site surfaces is minimized. Generous daylighting, that is shaded, is provided in all occupied spaces. Water harvesting is done by the unique roof design which directs all roof water into an underground cistern where it is used for all site irrigation.


HomeNZ is a single family home designed by Imirzian that was selected by the City of Phoenix as winner of a design competition aiming to create a sustainable home with low energy use. HomeNZ allows for net-zero operation with solar panel and battery installation. The house features high thermal performing exterior construction, daylighting, natural ventilation, roof-mounted solar panels and battery, rainwater collection, and passive cooling techniques. The design minimizes the amount of energy consumption necessary for operation. The City of Phoenix has a web feature of the house, where permit approved plans are accessible to the public for anyone who would like to construct a sustainable home.

The article was also recognized in the Late Edition: Southwest of The Architect’s Newspaper as part of their newsletter’s “What We’re Reading” section.

Listen to the NPR podcast episode here, and read the full article here.

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