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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Downtown CALA classes coming

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The old Roy Place building on the southeast corner of Stone and Pennington could be the site for the new UA architecture and urban design studio.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat The old Roy Place building on the southeast corner of Stone and Pennington could be the site for the new UA architecture and urban design studio.

Graduate students in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture could be taking classes in downtown Tucson in the near future.

Jan Cervelli, dean of the college, said Pima County has made the UA an offer, but it all depends on the state budget and whether the university will see more budget cuts.

She believes the UA will certainly move into the space within a few years, but will move sooner if it has the money to pay for overhead costs like maintenance and operations of the facility.

“”It’s more a matter of us as a university putting together a plan on how we want to approach downtown. The county has been very generous in offering us the Walgreens building for use at a low lease rate,”” Cervelli said.

The UA is considering using the old Walgreens on Stone Avenue and Pennington Street, which closed in 2004, as a studio classroom for architecture and landscape architecture graduate students. A studio class typically has between 15 and 40 students depending on the program.

The college has three programs: planning, architecture and landscape architecture. It is uncertain which graduate program would be located at the site downtown.

“”The topic we would be centering on mostly would be urban design. That is something which is shared amongst the various programs,”” said Ron Stoltz, associate dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the director of the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning.

Stoltz said the university has been interested in moving downtown for at least a decade. He added that the downtown site the college is looking at provides several good opportunities for students. 

“”There’s a couple things which are really intriguing for us,”” Stoltz said. “”It provides us the opportunity to get immersed in the particular real-life issues of downtown urban planning and design, (and) number two, with the streetcar coming along, it then provides us with easy access along a mass transit line.””

According to the Tucson Department of Transportation’s Web site, the streetcar is scheduled to be up and running by November 2011.

Architecture and urban design professionals who already work downtown would be brought in as adjunct faculty. There are also some current professors who have expressed interest in teaching downtown.

If the UA’s deal with Pima County goes through, the university would lease the building for $1 per year on a bond from the county, according to Cervelli. 

The old Walgreens is in need of some renovation.

According to Reid Spaulding, facilities management director for Pima County, the county is repairing a portion of the exterior with an $800,000 voter-approved bond that passed in 2004. The money only pays to fix a portion of the façade. All of the Stone Avenue side, the corner, and 25 to 30 feet of the Pennington Street side will be completed.

“”That’s where the scaffolding stops,”” Spaulding said.

Other projects would include improvements to the electrical and mechanical systems. According to Bob Smith, UA’s associate vice president of planning, design and construction, those systems are problematic.

The UA would pay for the cost of maintaining and operating the facility without buying it.

The county wants to restore the building to “”prominence,”” according to Spaulding.

The chief architect who designed the UA also designed the old Walgreens building, which was a former Spanish Colonial Revival building.

“”The Walgreens will be the first foothold for a U of A center downtown,”” Cervelli said.

She speculates that within the next few decades, the UA will not only have the space at the former Walgreens, but may also add student housing and other campuses downtown.

Potential downtown programs include public administration, a media and communications center and continuing education programs.

However, according to Smith, the university can’t afford to pursue any other options downtown as of right now.

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