August 14, 2006

The first phase of Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix Campus master plan, opens August 15th. Completion of this three-building redevelopment by the Design-Build Team of SmithGroup, one of the nation’s leading architecture, engineering, planning and interiors firms, and DPR Construction, Inc., a forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager, create ASU’s fourth campus. This new campus in the heart of downtown Phoenix combines academic excellence with a dedication to the community: socially, economically and culturally, defining an “urban downtown student life.” Classes begin August 21st for students in the College of Nursing, College of Public Programs, including the Schools of Public Affairs, Social Work, and Community Resources and Development, as well as University College, with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and KAET-TV/Channel 8 expected to follow in fall 2008.

The three-building redevelopment needed to be ready for students this fall, was completed in approximately 15 months through the design-build delivery method, performing architectural and engineering tasks simultaneously during the construction process. The redevelopment took place at University Center, located at 411 N. Central Ave. (280,000 sq. ft.), the Nursing & Healthcare Innovation building, located at Third and Taylor Streets (80,000 sq. ft.), and portions of the Mercado, located at Seventh and Van Buren Streets (16,000 sq. ft.). Arizona State University is also celebrating the opening of the Residential Commons located directly east of the University Center at First and Polk Streets.

As the nucleus for ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, SmithGroup strove to create open spaces in the University Center. By removing walls and adding the signature lobby stair, the University Center renovations create a successful flow of students, faculty and tenants. These design implementations add both visual and physical connectivity to the space. In addition to the conversion of offices to teaching spaces, the mechanical systems previously located in the University Center were removed, allowing the lower level to accommodate the Information Commons, a library and resource center. Previously the First National Bank of Arizona, the University Center incorporates several historic elements into the new fabric of the building. The bank vault and the columns from the original structure are visible on the lower level. By incorporating these details, the renovations of the University Center honor the past, while adding a new layer of function and efficiency to the downtown campus.

Renovations to the Nursing & Healthcare Innovation building and the Mercado converted office space into mediated classrooms, a laboratory, administrative and public areas. The Nursing & Healthcare Innovation structure was given a new exterior skin while the Mercado spaces were modified to accommodate clinical teaching spaces for incoming nursing students.

Combined square footage for these renovations exceeds 360,000 feet with a design-build cost of $40 million. A large percentage of the budget was used to improve and replace building infrastructure including a majority of the mechanical, electrical and life safety systems.

The ASU Downtown Phoenix campus opens on August 21, 2006 to approximately 4,000 students and 600 faculty and staff. Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, ASU’s newest campus provides an academically rigorous university experience in a vibrant, urban campus that is integral to the success of the community. The campus is expected grow to 15,000 students and 1,800 faculty and staff by 2020. The College of Nursing, College of Public Programs and University College serve as the anchor colleges for the downtown campus. The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Channel Eight KAET, Phoenix’s PBS affiliate, join the campus in fall 2008. The ASU Downtown Phoenix campus is part of a larger plan with the City of Phoenix to revitalize the city’s urban core into a 24/7 city where people live, work and entertain, and it further demonstrates ASU’s pioneering vision to become the New American University – a gold standard for the American research university.

The City of Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the U.S. with a population of 1.5 million residents. The city spans an area larger than Los Angeles, totaling 515 square miles. Phoenix is one of the largest employers in the state and its 14,000 employees provide municipal services out of 26 departments to area residents.

DPR Construction, Inc., a forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager, consistently ranks in the top five percent of general contractors in the country in its four core markets of advanced technology, biopharmaceutical, corporate office and healthcare. DPR has more than $800 million worth of technically demanding and sustainable projects currently in preconstruction or under construction across the country for such world-class customers as Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Abbott Laboratories, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, eBay, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Kaiser Permanente, Oracle, Pixar, Roche Molecular Systems, Sutter Health and Yahoo!. The firm’s 130-person Arizona office has been “building great things” since 1994 and, with more than $112 million worth of work underway, is ranked as one of the largest general contractors in Arizona. DPR has offices in Atlanta, Austin, Fairfax, Newport Beach, Phoenix, Redwood City, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. For more information, visit

SmithGroup, Inc. ( ranks as the nation’s 7th largest architecture and engineering firm (Building Design & Construction, July 2006) and employs 800. The firm is composed of client industry-focused practices serving the healthcare, learning, workplace and science & technology markets. SmithGroup has offices Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, IL, Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Phoenix, AZ; Raleigh-Durham, NC; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, D.C. Established in 1853, SmithGroup is the longest continually operating architecture and engineering firm in the U.S.