Studio Ma is an award-winning architecture and environmental design firm delivering innovative, sustainable and unique designs to forward thinking institutions and individuals. Founded in Phoenix, Arizona in 2003, Studio Ma is led by three principals, Christiana Moss, FAIA, Christopher Alt, AIA and Tim Keil, RA, who foster a creative and growing practice centered in the essence of the desert southwest.
The philosophy of the Studio is embodied by the concept of Ma, a Japanese term that acknowledges the dynamic relationship between objects and their surrounding environment. This concern extends our practice to multiple scales from the making of a residence to complex urban and natural contexts at universities and cultural institutions. We are inspired by the stark profiles of the surrounding mountains, their jagged outlines and the play of light and shadow serving as an ever-changing backdrop to the city. We are also taken by the delicate and variegated qualities of light that can be found under the native palo verde tree with its small leaves and luminous green bark. This combination of strong, simple forms animated by luminous, variegated surfaces creates the ever changing, spatial envelope of the valley. In a like manner, we strive to create forms and surfaces that resonate with the surrounding context, both large and small.
Xero Studio provides our team with a high-quality environment, creating comfortable work spaces and shaded outdoor areas for breaks. True to our values, we worked collectively to develop the program and realize the design concept. We developed a parti that looked to the Living Building Challenge for sustainable design strategies. The building is wrapped with continuous insulation and was re-clad with Kebony wood fins that surround the structure on three sides, reducing heat gain and glare, and the fourth side is shaded by a tall hedge planted close to the building. The building layout places staff areas away from the glare and heat of west-facing windows. Operable skylights and windows circulate cool air toward work areas and flush hot air out of the roof, while photovoltaics net our energy use. Xero Studio was honored with an AIA 2021 National Small Project Award.