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

September 2, 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. new ASU building shot Download Full Image

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.

Reporter , ASU News


'Healing Racism Series' takes on microaggression

September 2, 2014

They are commonplace, brief and yet they can be extremely powerful and harmful. Microaggressions – the everyday verbal slights and behavioral indignities that communicate “otherness” and that keep the wheels of oppression and racism turning – will be the focus of the first session in the 2014-2015 Healing Racism Series.

The session, “Microaggressions: The Modern Face of Racism,” will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 10, at South Mountain Community Library, 7050 South 24th Street, in Phoenix. (Parking and directions.) woman holding a sign displaying a "microaggression" Download Full Image

“Whether intentional or unintentional, and whether related to race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, religion or another facet of identity, microaggressions assault an individual’s psyche under the guise of seemingly innocuous comments and inquiries,” says Matthew Whitaker, director of ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and ASU Foundation Professor of history in the College of Letters and Sciences.

“They can be belittling, insulting and often send the message that some aspect of who you are, your station, or what you aspire to be does not conform to stereotypes or norms, or is wholly invalid.”

They are the modern face of racism in our so-called “post-racial” world.

The Healing Racism Series is at the heart of the Healing Racism Project, a collaboration of ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, the Maricopa Community Colleges and the City of Phoenix. The quarterly events bring together academic experts, community leaders and citizens to discuss topics related to racism, Arizona communities and American society, and to encourage dialogue that leads to positive change.

Organized in a workshop format focused on civil conversation, the Sept. 10 session will explore how microaggressions happen, and participants will gain solutions-based tools to manage micro-aggressors, recognize microaggressions in their own interactions, and stop the behavior.

“Tearing down racial barriers and stereotypes, and building a more informed, unified citizenry requires dialogue in settings where people feel comfortable enough to respectfully express their opinions and know they won’t be attacked by someone who disagrees with them,” Whitaker observes.

The workshop will be introduced by Whitaker and facilitated by Kami Hoskins, an attorney with the Phoenix firm of Jennings Strouss, and Rory Gilbert, senior human resources manager for Maricopa Community Colleges. Whitaker, Hoskins and Gilbert all serve as committee members for the Healing Racism Project.

Diversity Inc., a Paradise Valley Community College student organization focused on promoting inclusivity, will also take an active role in the workshop.

The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please register at

The three other sessions in the 2014-2015 Healing Racism Series are: “Reverse Racism?” (Oct. 8, Paradise Valley Community College), “Racism and Patriotism” (Feb. 11, Scottsdale Community College) and “Is This My Issue? Race and …” (May 2, ASU Downtown Phoenix campus).

Maureen Roen

Director of Communications, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts