Weeping Wall in the Christine and Ted Mollring Sculpture Courtyard. Photo by Loren Anderson Photography.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West offers a unique perspective on the importance and application of conservation in Arizona. The LEED® Gold-certified museum building functions as an active teaching tool for all ages, and allows visitors to experience how contemporary architecture can minimize waste.

When walking around the museum building and campus, you’ll notice a variety of features that are both visually pleasing and eco-friendly. At the museum’s “weeping wall” in the sculpture courtyard, you can see first-hand how rainwater and 100 percent of the condensation from the heating/air conditioning system is collected, redistributed via recessed planters, and reused to nourish the museum’s desert landscaping.

Ribbed concrete on exterior walls. Photo by Bill Timmerman, Courtesy Studio Ma, Architect.

Additionally, you’ll see how certain parts of the museum’s structure mirrors the surrounding desert landscape and self-shades its own exterior. This is accomplished through purposefully designed overhangs as well as textured concrete walls. The textured concrete mirrors the ribbed exterior of the saguaro cactus, and provides micro-shading that keeps the building cooler in high temperatures. These features, as well as many others, are used to reduce energy consumption each day.

Together, each element of the museum’s environmentally conscious architecture teaches us an important lesson about how design can serve both the community and the planet.