University of Arizona Bryant Bannister Laboratory Tree Ring Research

University of Arizona Bryant Bannister Laboratory Tree Ring Research

Tucson, Arizona

Signature Laboratory Attracts Researchers & Doners

The Bryant Banister Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research is the world leader in Dendrochronology Research. Previously, the lab existed without its own dedicated space large enough for their needs.  A major goal of the new building was to create a space worthy of telling their story and supporting their world class research. The building is permeable on the ground floor, which houses exhibit and outreach space, opening this prized collection to the public.

The new 35,000 square foot building is the centerpiece for the Tree-Ring Lab, housing a myriad of advanced research laboratories, faculty and research offices, and support material processing spaces. A primary function of the building program is the consolidation of a collection of irreplaceable wood samples into an archive in the 21,000-sf renovated building adjacent to the new structure. This simple steel structure is supported on the trunk like columnar structure, and shaded by a veil of aluminum, shielding the building from the hot desert sun; the existing building will provide a future green roof platform for conferencing and breakout space. The materials chosen for the building envelope are simple, used innovatively, generate significant cost-savings, and require minimal maintenance eliminating costly upkeep.

Laboratories are located along the southern edge of the building which is reinforced for vibration control maximizing the open lab configuration. Lab support is located internally within the laboratory block for adjacency, and to allow for a view into the labs from the corridor. Faculty offices flank the east and west allowing the big “picture window” view to north of the Catalina Mountains from the open floor to plan. All perimeter spaces utilize clerestories to get maximum daylighting to the interior. The ground floor contains a double-height lobby with exhibit areas featuring displays from the archived collections. The multipurpose room is directly accessed from the lobby. The exterior plaza is configured for exterior exhibit and gathering areas for faculty and student use.

Project facts

Design Architect:  Richärd Kennedy Architects

Architect of Record:  Richärd Kennedy Architects

Client:  University of Arizona

Size:  31,000 SF

Project Type:  Science + Technology, Higher Education

Services:  Architecture, Programming, Planning, Sustainability, Interior Design

Delivery Method:  CMAR

General Contractor:  Lang Wyatt Construction

Structural Engineer:  Rudow + Berry

MEP Engineer:  Energy System Design, Inc.

Landscape Architect:  Kimley Horn

Photographers:  Liam Frederick

Certification:  LEED Silver Certified

Press & Awards

2016   AIA Western Mountain Region, Merit Award

2016   AIA Arizona, Component Design Award


The building design is an abstraction of the forest structure: a columnar stand of trees with an overstory of filtered shade. The massive steel columns are randomly clustered and are expressed for their full forty foot height. The shade scrim surrounding the lab/office block is meant to recall the idea of a tree canopy, a kinetic structure constructed of steel tube support with a veil of aluminum pipe. The pipe, hung with a simple chain assembly will pivot in the breeze recalling the movement of the tree canopy.

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