Honor - SCUP Excellence in Planning for a District or Campus Component

Arizona State University

Research District
Arizona State University - Research District
Jury Comments
". . . humanitarian test village is very unique . . . I really appreciate the environmental issues they were attacking . . . siting of the buildings is responsive to the mountains . . . the indigenous issue is laudable . . ."


  • Site – 350 acres
  • The plan addresses the unique conditions of the site and leverages the adjacency of a university campus, a working airport, and a future research park.
  • The plan consciously explores a series of strategies to establish a system of microclimates and promote thermal comfort.
  • Each research cluster has a pedestrian-oriented shaded heart and a series of active programs to encourage serendipitous encounters, collaborative brainstorming, and socialization.
  • A “sandbox” located within the research hub provides a dedicated and versatile space for students and faculty to explore new ideas and test them.
  • Consultations were held with the Native American Tribal Council, archaeologists, real estate professionals, and heritage advisors.
  • A cultural heritage impact report, archaeological mapping, and a detailed economic impact analysis were conducted in tandem to inform the development of the plan and make it implementable.


The Research District plan integrates the rich ecological and cultural history of the site with the development of a cutting- edge district that facilitates research and full-scale testing and prototyping of regenerative systems focussed around food, water, energy, and humanitarian relief. The Research District aspires to become an exemplar for full-scale testing and experimentation of these systems. Collaboration with the airport provides additional opportunities to develop research areas around aviation and humanitarian relief systems and deploy them. Rather than hard lines between the campus, Research District, and airport, the plan emphasizes the integration and collaboration of all three. The edges along each of the districts become dynamic spaces of collaboration. The location of academic programs near key research enterprises creates symbiotic relationships between the university, private research entities, and allied industry. The plan is a purposeful demonstration of what it means to dwell in the desert, the ability to walk between venues because shade plus solar has been carefully placed, or to have every available drop of water captured, used, and used again.

The planning effort was supported by a parallel analysis of economic and real estate considerations and financing opportunities that informed the size of development parcels and advocated for approximately 2.4 million sq ft of long-term development. The layout responds to the surrounding real estate market, the attraction of businesses appropriate to the ecosystem, and a sequenced infrastructure deployment from public and private sources.

Project Team

Sasaki Associates; also U3 Advisors; Lake | Flato Architects; Tim Murphy, Regenesis