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Downtown Phoenix campus construction nears finish line

March 27, 2008

Cranes are still soaring over Downtown Phoenix, but the end is in sight for key ASU construction projects.

The new Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication building on Central Avenue and Taylor Street is nearing completion, with work expected to wrap up in June. Workers are focusing on outside windows, exterior panels, interior walls and painting.

“Move-in will be in July through August,” says Patrick Panetta, the assistant director of University Real Estate Development.

The new home of Eight/KAET-TV in the building probably will be occupied later than Cronkite faculty, staff and students.

“They’re not really semester-dependent,” Panetta says.

Students who take classes in the new, 223,000-square-foot building can enjoy features such a two-story atrium called the “Forum,” with a stage and seating on the ground floor, and a surrounding overlook on the second floor. Television studios on the sixth floor will broadcast

Eight programs, while students can gain real-world experience in their own newsrooms and television studios. The project also brings 23 new classrooms to the campus.

Taylor Place opens this August on the Downtown Phoenix campus, with 744 beds for students in Tower One. Students are reserving spaces in the new student housing complex, with rooms on the top floor with floor-to-ceiling windows selling quickly.

“I believe the top floor is sold out,” Panetta says.

Crews are finishing the outside by installing windows, and they’re working on interior features such as raising walls. Students who move into Taylor Place this fall can take advantage of a fitness center, study areas, socializing areas with flat-screen televisions, vending rooms and laundry areas. Ground-floor retail includes dining services, a convenience store and possible coffee shop thus far. First-floor retail services in Tower Two will open this fall, as well with a UPS Store that also will handle student mail. Tower Two will open to students in August 2009.

Both towers cover 366,500 combined square feet at the site between First and Second streets on Taylor Street.

ASU’s lease for Residential Commons at First and Polk streets ends in May. ASU and Phoenix have an option until 2012 to develop one-third of the parcel.

“There are several potential uses for that property,” Panetta says.

Students and the public can enjoy a new green space in the Civic Space park when it opens in the spring of 2009. Crews are working on grading and drainage at the site just south of the post office on Central Avenue.

“The park is almost completely designed,” Panetta says.

Park features include several large grassy areas, spaces with game tables, public seating and hardscape where student organizations can network, much like they do outside the Memorial Union in Tempe. A large public art installation by Janet Echelman will be similar to a wind sculpture she created in Portugal.

The sculpture, suspended above the ground, will be about 60 feet tall.

A garden plaza below street level is planned for the north side of the historic A.E. England building on the Civic Space site. A restaurant also is planned for the lower level, and a great hall within the building can accommodate about 350 students. It also will be available to the public for gatherings. A shade structure on the west side of the A.E. England building will provide welcome relief from the summer sun, and photovoltaic cells in the same area will provide power. First steps in renovating the historic building are shoring up the core and shell with work on the exterior walls and roof trusses.

“The design is being worked on,” Panetta says.

The College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation will expand to a second building as soon as construction gets under way at Third and Fillmore streets. Groundbreaking for the new five-story, 84,000-square-foot building is slated for April 1, following changes to the design that were made based on public input. A canopy was enlarged to make the entrance more prominent, and more glass was added along the Third Street façade. The fourth and fifth floors will be occupied by non-nursing ASU units and Phoenix offices. A third building is planned for the northwest corner of the lot in the future.

A proposed use plan for student union space at the post office at Central Avenue and Fillmore Street is currently at the University Architects office. Plans for the union include conference rooms, recreation space, retail outlets, study areas and food service providers. The post office will continue front-counter services and offer post office boxes when the union opens. Renovation is scheduled to start in 2009.