ASU breaks ground for new West campus facilities

June 8, 2011

The growth taking place at Arizona State University’s" target="_blank">West campus will soon be supported by the addition of a new residence hall and dining facility. The university celebrated the start of construction on these projects with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 15, with the public invited to attend.

The facilities are set to open for the beginning of the Fall 2012 semester on the campus at Thunderbird Road and 47th Ave., in northwest Phoenix. New West Campus Facility Download Full Image

The new residence hall, meant to serve freshmen and sophomores, will double the current number of on-campus beds for resident students. The existing Las Casas facility, with its apartment-style units, will be an attractive alternative for upperclassmen and graduate students.

The 365-bed, 93,000 square-foot residence hall will feature 109 one- and two-bedroom suite-style units for two or four residents. Amenities include a social lounge, gaming lounge, study rooms, a community kitchen for programming use, laundry facilities, a business center and an interior landscaped courtyard. The building is designed to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver specifications.

The $14.3-million residence hall will be built and owned by American Campus Communities, with whom ASU worked to establish the successful Barrett Honors College and Vista Del Sol projects on the Tempe campus.

Among the amenities in the 37,000 square-foot dining facility will be open and private dining areas, late-night dining options, market-style servery areas and retail space. The Jamba Juice restaurant and Devils’ Den student lounge currently located in the University Center Building are expected to become part of the new dining facility.

The total project cost for the dining facility, also to be built by American Campus Communities, is $9.5 million. ARAMARK, the dining service provider, will contribute to the project.

No state dollars or tuition revenues are being used to fund the residence hall or dining facility.

“The West campus is a key asset for Arizona State University and for the West and North Valley,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “We are committed to making the campus a sought-after destination for outstanding students not only from the Valley but from around Arizona and the United States, and these new facilities will help us make continued progress toward that goal.”

The campus already has begun attracting increased numbers of out-of-state students, providing a boost to the local economy. In Fall 2010 nearly 25 percent of the newly admitted students to ASU’s" target="_blank">New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus, came from outside Arizona. Some of those students were drawn by the ability to take advantage of the Western Undergraduate Exchange program that enables students from 14 Western states to enroll in select majors and pay lower tuition than the regular non-resident rate.

“Research has repeatedly shown that university freshmen who live on campus have higher retention and graduation rates than those who do not,” said Elizabeth Langland, dean of New College and ASU vice provost. “We have added elements to the new residence hall and dining facility that are specifically designed to bring students together for academic and social interaction, which will enhance our sense of community on campus.”

Along with New College, ASU’s" target="_blank">Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and" target="_blank">W. P. Carey School of Business offer degree programs on the West campus." target="_blank">Barrett, The Honors College also maintains an active presence on the campus, with students in all majors eligible to participate in Barrett programming.

The new buildings will add to the many facilities and services for students already offered at the West campus, including a full-service library, computing commons, tutoring services, disability resource center, dining options including Starbucks, dozens of student clubs, and opportunities for students to work with professors on research projects. A shuttle service is available for students who take classes on multiple ASU campuses.

ASU’s West campus is at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. The groundbreaking event will be held on the multipurpose field west of the Sands Classroom Building. Visitors to campus may park in Lot 13, off University Way North on the north side of campus.

Infrared photos offer 'behind the scenes' look at works of art

June 8, 2011

What if you suddenly find that you've inherited a European castle and all the furnishings and artworks inside?

Sell the castle and list the furnishings on eBay. But what about the paintings? What if there's a masterpiece worth millions hanging on the ancient walls? Download Full Image

How do you know that the artworks are what the signature says they're supposed to be? That someone didn't just paint a copy with modern materials and make it look old?

Call in the Art Detectives, or rather Corine Schleif, professor of art history at ASU, and Volker Schier, an affiliate of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Since about 2002, Schleif and Schier have done "undercover" work examining paintings with infrared photography – utilizing the invisible rays just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum – to learn about the original preliminary drawings for the painting, layers of paint, changes in the artist's focus and more.

Schleif, who spends her summers in Germany, often is asked to analyze paintings in the many churches in Nuremberg, most of which date back to the 1400s, and in fact, she already has studied a great many of them.

When Schleif and Schier are called in, Schier said, "The pieces of art are usually up for restoration, and the restorers need to know more about the paintings before touching them. I actually like to come when the surface of a painting has been cleaned by the restorers. This makes it easier for me to penetrate paint layers, since otherwise there might a fairly large amount of candle soot and other particles on the surface that effectively shield the lower layers from the 'gaze' of my camera."

For example, Schleif and Schier recently were asked to photograph and analyze the Glockengiesser epitaph in St. Lorenz Church in Nuremberg, which was painted shortly after the death of its honoree, Agnes Glockengiesser, in 1433.

"The epitaph, or memorial painting, depicts the 'Dormition of the Virgin,' or the death of Mary," Schier said. "In this case, infrared photographs were important since the restorers had determined that large parts of the floor but also some of the mantles and tunics had been painted over in the 19th century. During the restorations these added layers were removed. In order to prepare the removal of paint layers it is essential to have information about the layers below."

Sometimes, whole paintings disappear under new artwork – for example, when Lutheran scenes were painted over Catholic ones after the Reformation. 

"In the 17th century several paintings from the 15th century in Nuremberg churches were completely painted over with new motifs," Schier said. "Restorers had noticed this and they had removed small patches of the surface paint layers at some less obtrusive parts of the paintings. This provided the proof that there were different paintings underneath but of course these approximately 1-by-2-inch patches do not provide any information about the iconography."

With infrared photography, Schier and Schleif could determine what was under the more modern paint, and then let the restorers decide what to do. In the case of these particular artworks, the restorers are have not yet made a decision about their strategy.

Infrared images also can give hints into the working of the artist's mind. In the Glockengiesser epitaph, for example, the artist's initial design for the sleeve of Christ's tunic was different from the later execution, Schier said. "The left sleeve was initially drawn much lower. The artist then corrected this and lifted the arm of Christ, and he also made the sleeve much longer.

"If you look at the right hand of Christ you can also see the underdrawing for the fingers. Traces of the underdrawing appear all over the infrared photogram."

"Infrared allows you to look through the painting process. You see the different steps involved in it. You can see the underdrawings," Schleif said. "You can ask the question of who did the underdrawing? Sometimes the master did the underdrawings and apprentices completed the works. You can study the styles of underdrawings, and attribute them."

The approximate age of a painting can also be revealed through infrared photography, particularly when certain pigment colors are examined.

For example, if the camera can "see" through the blue, it is almost certainly a paint made of lapis lazuli, not azurite. Lapis was a luxury product since it had to be imported from Afghanistan, while azurite was mined in several locations in Europe. "If I can't get through," Schier said, "it's azurite.

"I think the basic question about lapis and azurite was how much a donor wanted to spend on a painting. If lapis was used, the donor had a lot of money."

Possible misunderstandings between patrons and artists also can be detected, as can places in the painting where the artist changed his mind.

In the Imhoff epitaph in the Church of Saint Sebald in Nuremberg, for example, which is a memorial to Ursula Imhoff, Schleif and Schier discovered the that painting included depictions of both of Ursula Imhoff's husbands - a very unusual departure from the custom of the time.

"The Imhoff epitaph poses many questions," said Schleif. "Why was it commissioned so many years after Ursula's death in 1504? Why did those ordering the work determine that both husbands should be included? Were changes made while the work was in progress? Is it possible that initially only one man was depicted?"

After finding only one man under the top layers of paint, Schier speculated, "Perhaps the daughters didn't like having their father left out.”

When Schleif and Schier began attempting to take infrared photos, spurred by their interest in the Imhoff Epitaph, they had to work at night to avoid visible light, and put the cameras under big black cloths to further block light and reflection. They used film with special filters, and had to develop the film themselves.

Their first roll of film was a disappointment, Schier said. "I had calculated an approximate exposure time based on the speed of the film and we started taking images with one of our medium format cameras and flashlight illumination.

"We ran a couple of rolls of film and in the evening I started to develop them in my darkroom. When I removed the first roll of film from the developing tank I was shocked: The film was almost completely blank. Only a very faint image was detectable under close inspection. With the next rolls I drastically extended the developing time and could obtain printable images."

Once the Sony DSC-F828 digital camera based on a CCD chip was released in 2004 Schier immediately purchased one. "We were able to push the upper limit of infrared wavelength to approximately 1100nm, which is quite a jump," Schier said. "We now could use 'denser' filters and generally look much deeper into the paint layers."

The infrared examination of paintings is still a rare art, said Schier and Schleif, and it's still more rare for students to have access to them. They gladly invite ASU students to work with them during summers, using their personal equipment, and Schleif includes information about infrared tools in her art-history courses.

"Usually only major museums have an infrared camera," Schier said. "You have to learn to use the equipment on your own. Infrared techniques are not written up, and there are hardly any books because technology is changing so rapidly. 'Infrared Imaging for Dummies' hasn't been written yet."

Getting the images is one thing, but reading them is another. "You need a solid art background to read them, and our approach is to get those two things together," Schleif said.

"Only when working with a professor who is regularity using this technology – such as Corine – students can learn about this important technology that should be part of their art historical 'toolkit.'" Schier said.

"ASU is very special, since – as far as I am aware – students at only one other university in the United States use this technology."