Studio Ma recently completed a substantial redesign of the plaza adjacent to the student union on the Arizona State University, Tempe campus. Key to their redesign is a network of modular shade canopies that enhance the usability of the busy campus. With more than 30,000 students a day passing through the Memorial Union Plaza, the challenge was to create an engaging and dynamic public space that could be used in the extreme heat of the Arizona desert, as well as provide an iconic entry to the student union.
The unique saddle shape of the canopies’ supports creates a doubly-curved surface that stabilizes the fabric and produces a striking visual form. The designers specified a double layer of 50% open shade cloth that reduces light transmission and produces a dappled moiré effect. LED lights on the underside of each canopy are programmed to cycle through the color spectrum.