Finishing touches are being put on the new heart of Arizona State University's Polytechnic campus in east Mesa. Three projects — renovation of an auditorium and construction and expansion of two pedestrian malls — are knitting a hodgepodge of former Air Force base buildings into a more unified academic campus.
Finishing touches are being put on the new heart of Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus in east Mesa.
Three projects — renovation of an auditorium and construction and expansion of two pedestrian malls — are knitting a hodgepodge of former Air Force base buildings into a more unified academic campus.
“It establishes a campus identity,” said Beau Dromiack, lead designer of the campus and senior associate with RSP Architects in Tempe.
The biggest job was completed last fall when a $103 million academic complex opened. It is composed of five new buildings and two former Air Force buildings that were renovated and painted to blend with the new structures.
A third building from the Williams Air Force Base days, the Aravaipa Auditorium, is being remodeled into a lecture hall. That $3.3 million project is scheduled for completion in October.
Together, the eight old and new buildings are forming a nucleus for the Polytechnic campus, Dromiack said. And the malls will tie the core academic complex to other key buildings, giving the campus a physical coherence it previously lacked.
The 710-foot-long Backus Mall, named for Charles Backus, the school’s first provost who retired in 2004, fills a former north-south roadway. It will link the academic center with the student union and the library/commons on the north and the Agribusiness Center, a student residence hall, and a parking lot on the south.
The existing east-west Sonoran Arroyo Mall is being extended 270 feet to the east to tie the academic core with student fitness facilities.
The $1.85 million mall projects are scheduled to be finished in August.
With the state facing a relentless budget crisis, funding for the latest projects had to be dug up from various other sources.
The auditorium renovation is being financed by Arizona Lottery money, while the mall cost is being covered by university-generated revenue, said David Brixen, interim vice president for university services.
Early in the planning, a decision had to be made whether to demolish the auditorium building, unused since 1997, or incorporate it into the academic center, Dromiack said.
“Our decision was to embrace the building and integrate it into the design of the new academic buildings,” he said. “It has a strong history with the campus, and it is a very useful function.”
The designers blended the building with the new structures by wrapping it in exterior perforated metal screens and planting screens that are aesthetic features of the new buildings. The screens also reduce energy consumption.
A complete rehab of the interior mechanical, seating and other systems is planned to extend the life of the auditorium 30 years, he said.
The interior work is scheduled to begin this week.
The Polytechnic campus, with about 9,000 students, has more development needs, but construction will depend on the availability of funding.
Brixen said the most likely future projects will be residence halls built by third-party developers.
“There are some in the very preliminary planning stages,” he said.