A glittering, copper-clad building in downtown Phoenix is much more than just a beautiful landmark. The Health Sciences Education Building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus incorporates a copper façade that recalls the Grand Canyon, a signature statement of the Arizona landscape.


Achieving the iconic look, however, required early collaboration between the design and construction teams. The original design called for a corrugated steel decking material to achieve a sheared rock wall look. However, the owner expressed concern about the material choice. Before design was completed the team took a risk by procuring recycled copper coils to manufacture into a fissured, formed, and pressed panel solution, at $0.25 on the dollar, thanks to de-escalating copper prices.


The team used Building Information Modeling virtual 3D mockups to turn 5,972 individual unique copper panels into 26 repetitive “serpen­tine” panel types, each with a unique pattern arranged in different combination to form one-of-a-kind larger scaled patterns. The final copper cladding was used as a rain technology, a solution which contributed to the building being awarded LEED Silver®.


Laser scanning of the cast-in-place “as-built” structure was used to prefabricate and assemble the panels on the ground. They were then lifted into place. The result is a striking effect that achieved the designer’s vision below the original exterior wall budget, and helped the owner achieve its vision of a landmark facility that will inspire the next generation of healthcare providers.


Arizona Board of Regents


Health Sciences Education Building