Student Success District, Tucson, Ariz.
PRIME ARCHITECT AND FFE: The Miller Hull Partnership LLP
CONSULTING ARCHITECT: Poster Mirto McDonald
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Sundt
ENVIRONMENTAL GRAPHICS AND WAYFINDING: Mayer Reed
The recently completed 262,000-square-foot Student Success District at the University of Arizona is a groundbreaking addition to the university’s urban fabric. The complex project redefines and revitalizes the Main Library and Bear Down Gymnasium, reorients the entry to the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library and merges them with a new 55,000-square-foot Center for Academic Success to create an interconnected district. Connections between new and existing structures activate outdoor spaces and provide areas for student engagement.
Early involvement with a diverse body of stakeholders and user groups was critical for understanding priorities and possibilities for the district and developing a clear path to the end goal of the multi-phased project. The established goals pushed the program to integrate space within departments to break the silos that previously existed in the decentralized locations across campus.
Soliciting student input throughout the process provided deep insight into what was most valued: technology, variety of spaces, and power and internet access everywhere. Student input encouraged the team to embrace the goal of creating “a place for every student”—diverse, flexible, technology-rich spaces—by introducing indoor and outdoor shared study and lounge areas in a student-centric, unifying character.
Miller Hull identified design and construction solutions to optimize the broad and varied program within the available physical and fiscal resources. The co-location of student support services provides convenient career counseling, financial skill-building, and mental-health resources to students in a central campus location.
Establishing new connections on an existing campus can be challenging. Spanning 95 years of history, the Main Library, science-engineering library and Bear Down Gymnasium each had differing uses, architectural styles, grade connections and floor-to-floor heights. Understanding the importance of unifying the new district, the design solution was centered on student circulation and hardscape and landscape treatments to create occupiable space between buildings and continuity at building entries. As new entries were cut into the existing buildings, the consistent use of a thin-steel-plate portal was developed to “slice” through the façades and establish a language for the new circulation patterns. These connections and consistent development of spaces between structures became a common thread, stitching the district together and unifying the student experience.
PHOTOS: Chipper Hatter unless otherwise noted