Building exterior in the desert

Arizona State University Health Futures Center

Arizona State University Health Futures Center | Phoenix, Arizona

A project team that has fostered a culture of trust, collaboration and transparency is delivering an innovative new medical learning facility in Phoenix. Representing a new model for the future of healthcare education and delivery in the U.S., the Arizona State University Health Futures Center (ASU HFC) is a unique collaboration of ASU and a major healthcare provider.

Building exterior in the desert

Project Scope

The new 150,000-sq.-ft., three-story, ground-up facility will serve students in ASU’s nursing program as they learn to treat patients using a whole health model encompassing mind, body and spirit. The HFC facility features specific clinical skills labs with simulation exam and operating rooms. It includes space for a future MRI build-out, dry and wet labs, physical therapy dry labs and a teaching kitchen for nutritional programs. A home care lab provides a mock apartment where students can learn how to assist patients in their own homes. There is also a 300-seat conference center as well as a pathway connecting the HFC to the adjacent healthcare campus.

Located on a greenfield site in the Arizona desert, the project also includes site infrastructure (roads, utilities, landscape, etc.) as well as a 450-stall surface parking lot.

The HFC project team has used tools such as laser scanning, a high level of BIM and extensive full-scale mockups to add value, address the building’s complex geometry and boost productivity on the project, which is on track for completion in October of 2020.



The HFC building’s complex exterior geometry, which has resulted in tight construction tolerances, along with complex lab spaces have presented a variety of technical hurdles for the team that is designing and constructing the project. The team has been challenged to devise solutions that align with and support the facility’s goal of creating collaborative spaces that facilitate future-focused education and training.



From the start, the project team set out to establish a culture of trust, collaboration and transparency, an approach that has supported creative problem solving and laid the groundwork for a successful project outcome.

The team employed several technology-based solutions, including laser scanning and a high level of BIM, to improve quality and maintain the budget. Laser scanning was used for all pre-pour and post pours to ensure accurate installation while also helping guarantee that the slab edges and embeds could be placed with 100% accuracy. Working with the project’s trade partners, DPR completed a study that found that the owner’s $30,000 upfront investment in laser scanning saved approximately $272,000 in avoided rework – a greater than 8 times savings factor that represents a major return on investment.

The project team also created multiple full-scale mockups to streamline the design and constructability of the complex exteriors and to increase productivity. Various pieces of the exterior skin were precut and assembled in jigs to increase accuracy and production time.

Complex interior soffits and geometry were modeled and the studs were ordered to size to reduce the amount of field work and potential human error on the project. The complex lab spaces further benefited from 100% BIM coordination; spool sheets were developed to create rough-in elevations off all walls and services, with coordination in the model taken down to the studs.

The project employed room kitting, or grouping of key components from the same spaces, as a way to limit material transportation and overhandling. Finally, the team used TAKT planning, a lean construction tool, to ensure productive crew sizing and flow of work and to avoid lost production time. This created a steady work flow for all trades and improved safety, since trades were not stacked.



The HFC project stands out for the intentional culture of collaboration and trust that the team established and maintained from the earliest stages of the project, according to DPR project manager Casey Helburg.

“The biggest factor for overall success is the culture and mindset of the team,” he commented. “From the owner all the way through to the trade partners, there is a cohesive buy-in to quality, safety and the success of the project. The team has done a tremendous job at putting the project success first and breaking down silos that typically create challenges when delivering complex projects such as this.”

Casey Helburg

DPR Project Manager



ENR Southwest

Award of Merit, Higher Education/Research

This achievement highlights outstanding projects that demonstrate a commitment to safety, innovation, and teamwork.

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