Studio Ma designs net-zero-ready, sunlight-filled law offices

Real Estate | 11 May |

Widely recognized for creating their own ultra-green headquarters in Phoenix called Xero Studio, the internationally recognized architecture firm Studio Ma has completed the design for a super-energy-efficient law firm office for The Phoenix Law Group, a national law firm. The conversion of the single-story structure into a modern, wood-clad building with an inviting, double-height workplace of sun-dappled interiors and exposed wood finishes, was commissioned by Samantha Brown, one of the leaders of the firm, on Indian School Road in the center of one of Phoenix’s hottest trending neighborhoods.

Driven to create environments that provide “joy within, and function throughout,” the award-winning firm Studio Ma drew on its sustainable design expertise to inform the innovative renovation, ensuring the new law offices would be positioned to achieve net-energy-neutral performance in coming years. Optimized to accept solar and other net-zero energy technologies, the workplace design offers employees a healthy, well-ventilated and visually open office home filled with natural daylight to nurture a culture of collaboration and connectivity that is exceptional for a law office, according to Phoenix Law Group.

“The reimagined building needed to feel and operate as one large open office with strong visual connections among staff members, while also accommodating private offices where the firm’s lawyers conduct sensitive, confidential work,” says Christopher Alt, RA, Studio Ma’s co-founder and principal. The inventive solution transforms the structure into a large, two-story collaborative space along with enclosed offices and conference rooms, all acoustically isolated from one another by elegant glass partitions. A new mezzanine allows for expansion and amenities.

Alt adds that the use of glass was key to achieving the design intent: A merging of the law firm’s openness and teamwork along with ensuring each practitioner’s requisite separation and discretion. Meticulous detailing of the black-framed glass partitions ensures carefully controlled acoustics while allowing daylight and openness indoors and views to the outside. “The result ensures the lawyers and staffs enjoy full ownership of their private offices while remaining visually connected to the entire team,” says Alt, who serves as technical leader for Studio Ma’s focus on advancing functional and aesthetic solutions.

Just as valuable to the Phoenix Law Group, the transparent partitions bring daylight and views deep into the building interior, offering all staff members access to natural sunlight everywhere they work. A set of operable skylights illuminates the spaces from above while also circulating fresh air by means of a chimney or stack effect, a technique that draws ventilation air and circulates cooler air toward work areas, where needed, and flushes hot air out of the roof. Large glass openings on the building’s exterior likewise allow daylight in and connect occupants to the surrounding neighborhood. A continuous façade of modern wood louvers wraps the entire building, shading it from the desert sun’s harsh rays.

Staying within the client’s budget, Studio Ma expanded the project scope to include a mezzanine level with a fitness center for employees that doubles as a meditation room and an amenity deck to house team-building exercises and public events. A café with a break area for casual socializing is also centrally located for staff and visiting clients to enjoy.

Well known for award-winning museums, residential buildings, university centers, and innovative environmental design work at all scales, Studio Ma continues to expand into new building sectors, offering tech-driven, cost-effective, and context-sensitive design solutions to all.

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