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  White Tank Branch Library & Nature CenterWhite Tank Branch Library & Nature Center


DWL Architects + Planners, Inc.
2333 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

General Description

Location: Waddell, Arizona
Date Bid: May 2009 Construction Period: June 2009 to June 2010
Total Square Feet: 29,000 Site: 8.25 acres
Number of Buildings: One.
LEED® Platinum 
Building Size: First floor, 29,000; total, 29,000 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 24’; total, 40’.
Basic Construction Type: 2B,A3/New/Tilt-Up.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, slab-on-grade. Exterior Walls: Tilt up. Roof: Foam. Floors: Concrete. Interior Walls: Metal stud drywall.
Projected and/or modeled energy usage: KBTU/SF/yr: 37.8

Construction Team

Structural Engineer: Paragon Structural Design, Inc. - 101 N. First Avenue, #2600, Phoenix, AZ 85003
General Contractor & Cost Estimator: Mortenson Construction - 3100 W. Ray Road, #101, Chandler, AZ 85226
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer: Energy Systems Design Inc. - 7135 E. Camelback Road, #275, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Solar: Ameresco Solar, LLC - 2202 W. Medtronic Way, #101, Tempe, AZ 85281

With a magnificent backdrop of 4,000-foot peaks, the White Tank Branch Library & Nature Center is a desert oasis nestled in a rugged landscape notorious for its severe summer heat and torrential rainstorms. Yet this public library is found just a few miles from the suburbs of Phoenix, at the entrance to the largest regional park in Maricopa County. It's an environmental statement, complete with Nature Center and amphitheater.

A 200 foot-long monolithic concrete wall, diagonally subdivided into abstract shapes, is colored in three shades of green to match surrounding Saguaros, Palo Verdes and Mesquite trees. The concrete is engraved with petroglyphs inspired by those found on nearby boulders. High in the entry tower window, etched in glass, floats the most unique petroglyph from this region. Most think it represents a fishing net, but rumors abound that it may be a depiction of the Earth given to Native Americans by ancient aliens'a legend that adds to the park's mystique. Wrapped within this location's lore is a very flexible and functional 29,000-square-foot modern library that provides a sanctuary from the city and a connection to the natural world.

This project has achieved LEED(R) (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification. It is the first LEED Platinum certified public library in Arizona, and one of only three in the entire United States. It also has the distinction of being the only LEED Platinum certified public library built in a challenging environment. Part of this accomplishment is attributed to a rooftop mounted photovoltaic collector system that provides 27% of the power for the building. Through the project's solar energy generation and energy efficient design strategies, over $20,000 is saved annually in operating costs.

There are numerous design features that contribute to the large reduction in energy usage. Natural light pours in through windows that provide sweeping panoramic views, giving visitors a strong connection with nature. These windows are special energy efficient, 1-inch dual pane insulated glazing units with a high-performance Low-E coating. Sixteen-foot-long vertical concrete shade fins and deep perforated metal overhangs self-shade the building. Through computer modeling, the design team analyzed the shading patterns at various times of the year to optimize the lengths and angles of these projections.

The library's collection of 35,000 items is planned to serve about 49,000 people within a five-mile radius, including campers and cyclists. The activity room accommodates up to 137 children seated on the floor or 38 adults seated at linear tables. There are four quiet study rooms and a separate area for teens. The building is Wi-Fi enabled with 44 public computers available.

The southeast portion of the building houses the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department's Nature Center, which features a sales area, information counter and animal habitat room where the public can view snakes and rodents native to the park. Visitors can access the 25 miles of hiking trails winding through the park via a trailhead just steps from the Nature Center.

LEED® Points Achieved 52 Total
Sustainable Sites                    9
Water Efficiency                    4
Energy & Atmosphere             16
Materials & Resources             6
Indoor Environmental Quality  12
Innovation & Design Process    5

Product Information
Roofing: SWD Urethane
Flooring: Shaw Patcraft.
Curtainwall, Entrances & Storefronts: Arcadia, Inc.
Windows: Arcadia, Solar Gard


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