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Commons provides new home for ASU construction programs, Sun Devil Welcome Center

new ASU building shot
September 02, 2014

College Avenue Commons, Arizona State University’s new $54.5 million mixed-use building, will serve as the cutting-edge home for ASU’s construction programs, as well as a center of activity for students, staff, alumni and the community.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set to take place at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3, at the building, 660 S. College Avenue, in Tempe.

The five-story, 137,000-square-foot facility and collaborative learning space is the new home for Del E. Webb School of Construction programs, part of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“This building has cutting-edge, active learning spaces for our students, and provides a home befitting our nationally recognized construction programs,” said Paul C. Johnson, professor and dean of the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The building was designed by Gensler/Architekton and constructed by Okland Construction, with dozens of ASU alumni on the design and construction teams. Work on the cantilevered facility began in January 2013. It is part of ongoing efforts by ASU and the City of Tempe to enlarge the campus to accommodate ASU’s continued growth.

The facility boasts technologically advanced classrooms; collaborative study and meeting spaces designed to prompt discussion; exposed construction techniques to reveal interiors; and sensors throughout the building that allow instructors and students to monitor building performance, making it a living teaching tool. It also has extensive wi-fi connectivity, and comes equipped with several recharging stations.

“We will be able to use the building as part of the curriculum, watching the heating and cooling systems at work, monitoring water usage and peering through exposed walls to show students how they were built,” said G. Edward Gibson Jr., professor and director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “It’s a unique and exciting piece of construction.”

The building also houses the Sun Devil Welcome Center, which operates the Experience ASU visit program through Admission Services. About 10,000 high school and community college students considering ASU will begin their tours of campus in the center’s new 200-seat auditorium.

The ground floor Sun Devil Marketplace carries ASU clothing and gifts, computers and accessories, and includes a three-hole putting green. The Grab-And-Go market, also on the same floor, is a convenient stop for busy students and staff to grab a bite to eat or a drink. Pitchforks & Corks, a second-floor coffee-and-wine bar overlooking College Avenue, offers picturesque views.

Outdoor spaces, including balconies with drop-down video screens, a second-floor deck and multiple, ground-level patios, make the building a go-to gathering place for celebrations, special events and game-day celebrations.

“College Avenue Commons is a vertically integrated community with the idea of using College Avenue as a gathering space and hub of activity,” said Gensler’s Jay Silverberg, co-design principal for the project. “We see the building as a choreographed opportunity to introduce students, staff and the community to interact with one another.”

The building was designed with many sustainable features, including increased use of daylight in the classrooms, reduced water use, diversion of construction waste and use of recycled and low-emitting building materials. The university is seeking LEED-Gold certification for the building in keeping with ASU goals to achieve campus-wide carbon neutrality and zero waste.