Semiconductor Manufacturing Plant

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Semiconductor Manufacturing Plant
Semiconductor wafer production buildings are the high-tech cradles in which we gestate one of the most vital components in our society: microchips. The process to design such environments requires the careful collaboration of ten or more different design disciplines- all led by architecture. The $2.0 billion Semiconductor Manufacturing Plant in Chandler, Arizona houses the microelectronics industry’s latest 300mm wafer fabrication technology in a space of more than 1 million square feet, including a “ballroom` cleanroom of more than 200,000 square feet. This 60-foot-tall building combines steel frame and concrete pre-cast construction with a glass, masonry, and metal panel skin supported by over 800 concrete columns. This facility represents a new level of leadership in the “greening` of the semiconductor industry with new approaches to reduce power and water use while reducing global warming emissions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous materials. Design elements include natural skylights, solar energy, retention ponds, and reflective roofing. Energy savings are further enhanced through the use of “smart lighting` and optimized equipment controls " putting vacuum pumps into "sleep mode" when not in use, for example. The facility is designed to achieve significant improvements in recycling of water and chemicals to reduce waste while reducing costs for our client owners; a 15% reduction in global warming emissions; and water conservation and reuse strategies to conserve more than 70% of the water used. Thanks to the success of this building’s sustainable design, this project is seeking designation as the company's first LEED-certified factory. The dynamic demands of the microelectronics market drove an intense design process: 6 months of design overlapping construction in a breakneck pace of 11 months from groundbreaking to move-in. Extraordinary coordination was required among some 250 architects, engineers, and designers delivering over 11,000 drawings and 600 specification files. The key to infusing successful architectural design into a project of this kind is achievement of the simplest, most efficient solution refusing any excesses and concentrated on simplifying and streamlining the building’s architectural features, while supporting a highly complex process. This facility consists of wide support rooms distributed around the central, dominant space of the production cleanroom (a room with controlled air cleanliness and a substantial absence of airborne pollution). While the central core requires long spans, a roof truss and basically no natural light, the dimensions and features of the support spaces around the periphery of the building feature nearly opposite characteristics. The design decision was to seek a complementary relationship among the multiple purposes of the complex, with the north side exposed to the public access and housing of people functions, and the south side facing the technical yard of the site. In essence, the architectural investment was concentrated around the path of the human interface– the gowning, the stairs, the labs and part of the south support rooms- while the envelope of the automated production has been left to a more minimalist treatment. Since the material vocabulary of the site had been carefully adopted in most of the buildings of the site, the treatment of the main volume– a fascia of concrete masonry at the basement, topped by a ribbed metal cladding- has been re-proposed in the new project, even including the detail of the book end termination. The elemental volume that houses the main production cleanroom plainly exposes its content of industrial production using a skin with simple features and very little openings. The main box was then altered by the addition of the north building which originates by detachment of the upper metal cladding from the masonry basement. This solution represents a relatively new path for this manufacturer, whose cleanrooms are generally surrounded by narrower support areas. Once liberated from its massive foot, the extension finds a support on thin, white concrete columns. On the bottom, the ribs lose their background to become screened openings, lined by glass and partially transparent to the light; on the top they are simply changed into louvers with an identical profile, to provide air filtration and visual screening for the air treatment units located on the roof. At the corner, the gowning area, the place where all the new employees gather before starting their working shift, is highlighted by a curved element made out of flat seafoam green panels, cut by a deep vision window that allows the stunning image of the surrounding desert to penetrate the area without compromising its vocation for privacy. Below the curved and seemingly floating element of the gowning area, the columns leave behind a continuous transparent curtain wall enclosing the corridor of the laboratories at level 1. The main building is complemented by the hung volumes of the stairs that appear to be floating in air, suspended from the main façade. A glazed strip on the side, a delicate enclosure of perforated metal panels around the adjacent ducts, and a basement of masonry bricks visually play on different planes and at different elevations. Here the seafoam green panels have been reintroduced in a flat option, in line with the effort of simplification and abstraction of the existing architectural reference images. The enclosures of the exhaust ducts, made of stainless steel perforated screen panels, project at night a subtle lantern light that reveals their purely technical content. On the south side architectural features recess to give way to the imposing structural tower with scrubbers, cooling towers, ducts and associated piping. This side discloses without veils what it takes to make a building like this work. Its need for flexibility of rearrangements, expansion and regular maintenance simply refuses any sort of cladding. Almost a visceral dissection, this part has the same restrained sensuality that informs the entire project. Economy of themes, concision of shapes and selection of material combine to create an architectural language that projects the site toward the next generation of architecture with a statement of strength expressed with an elegantly simple solution.


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