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Renovated and renamed, Tucson building given new life

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Renovated and renamed, Tucson building given new life

UA Downtown will use Roy Place Building for CALA

  • The newly renovated Roy Place Building, home to UA Downtown.
    Poster Frost MirtoThe newly renovated Roy Place Building, home to UA Downtown.

If you drove through the intersection of Stone Avenue and Pennington Street anytime between 1956 to 2003, you would have seen a Walgreen's located at the southeast corner. And from 1928 to 1956, it was the Montgomery Ward Building. 

Pass through today and you will see the newly renamed Roy Place Building restored to its original 1928 facade. It will now house an expansion of the University of Arizona, UA Downtown, for the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, or CALA.

The new space for UA Downtown will be unveiled Saturday at an open house from 6-9 p.m. It will include music, refreshments and exhibits, as well as UA staff and students demonstrating their work and explaining upcoming UA Downtown programs, events and activities. 

Students of CALA, with artist and instructor Bill Mackey of Worker Inc., will present "Food, Paper, and Alcohol: an Exhibit on Downtown Tucson" at the event. It will be an interactive exhibit that looks at downtown Tucson and its relationship to the city, the region, nation and globe though these raw materials of urban design: food, paper and alcohol. 

"The exhibit is about our community and a call for us to refer to our daily practice as a complicated set of relationships between sites, economies, legislation, politics and our cultural processes," Mackey said in a UA press release.

Roy Place designed many of Tucson's best known buildings since arriving in the city in 1917. He worked with John Lyman to design more than 20 buildings in the area. Place then worked independently from 1924-1940 as the University of Arizona's chief architect. 

Some of Place's most famous architectural contributions to Tucson include: Pueblo, Rincon and Salpointe high schools, Plaza Theatre, The Pioneer Hotel, Centennial Hall and the Pima County Courthouse.  

The newly renovated building once housed the office of Roy Place, then called the Montgomery Ward Building. The building is now the Roy Place Building to honor his contributions to establishing Tucson as a community, as well as his work with the UA. 

"It is appropriate then that the building in which the University of Arizona will focus its downtown community outreach efforts was designed by and will be named for the campus's most significant architect," said R. Brooks Jeffery, director of the UA Drachman Institute, in the press release.

The bulk of the $953,000 reconstruction to establish UA Downtown was paid for with county bonds that voters approved in 2004.

Roy Place Building will be the home for UA Downtown under a five-year lease from Pima County, with the option for an five-year period renewal.

Pima County and the UA will work together to develop it as a center for research, outreach and teaching in the field of urban design. A series of sponsored exhibits, lectures and discussions on Tucson's urban design issues are planned. 

The College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture will start its academic programs with an interdisciplinary Urban Design Studio and the Drachman Institute, CALA's outreach arm. Other programs, such as Sustainable Real Estate Development and the interdisciplinary Sustainable City Project are expected to follow.

"We're creating a 'communiversity' in downtown Tucson to assist urban revitalization via academic programs, faculty, staff, and students," explained Dean Jan Cervelli from CALA. 

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences also plans to utilize this new UA Downtown center for their programs. They will open the Master of Public Administration and the Master in Development Practice programs, with hopes to attract students from around the world.

John Paul Jones III, SBS dean, said they also have plans to move the college's internship programs to the location. 

"We hope students and employers will both begin to use the downtown space as a place to meet and match up with one another. Certainly, we want our interns to be a part of the professional life of downtown Tucson," said Jones in the release.

The UA hopes the new facility will serve as a bridge connecting the college and the community, and a way for UA faculty and students to interact with city officials, community leaders and project developers. 

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