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UA construction projects near completion

By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, August 9, 2004
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Students will return to revamped, renewed campus for fall semester

Students returning this week to get a head start on the fall semester will find a campus that looks quite different from when they left it this spring.

Several sites on and around campus have been under construction for several weeks or months, but the majority of the projects should be completed before school begins this fall.

It is not uncommon for certain projects to fall behind schedule because construction can be interrupted by the weather and other difficulties, said Sarah Evans, coordinator for neighborhood relations at UA.

When it rains, workers may have to wait for everything on the construction site to dry, which can take several days. Workers may also not get all of the materials they need on time due to shipping problems.

Despite these and other obstacles, there has been much progress with construction projects at the UA and most are expected to be complete before or during the fall semester.

Details about most of the current projects can be seen on the UA Facilities Design and Construction Web site at

The Alumni Plaza

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Facilities Design and Construction

After facing opposition from UA students and faculty before and after its groundbreaking in November, the Alumni Plaza is expected to be complete by the fall semester.

The plaza, which includes seating, shade trees, a fountain and arid region landscaping, is to "function as a gathering space for informal daily use, formal receptions, ceremonies and special events," according to the FDC Web site.

Partially surrounded by the plaza landscape, the south entrance of the Administration Building will also reopen in the fall once the steps have been reconstructed.

Meinel Optical Sciences building

KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Summer Wildcat
The Meinel Optical Sciences building, located on North Cherry Avenue and East University Boulevard, is currently the largest construction project on the UA campus. Construction has been underway since October 2003 and should be completed by May 2005.

The largest project currently under construction on campus is the new high-technology optics facility, informally known as the West Wing.

The facility will include state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories, as well as a new lobby.

The facility will also feature an expanded reading room, six floors of faculty offices, informal discussion areas, several conference rooms and a large conference center.

Construction has been underway since October 2003 and should be completed by May 2005, said Tim Shute, the superintendent of the project.

The Meinel Optical Science Center, located at 1630 East University Blvd., is just south of the UA Mall.

North Cherry Avenue was blocked off on Aug. 2 because of the project, but reopens today, Shute said.

Highland District housing

Last fall the Villa del Puente Residence Hall, the first of three phases in the construction of the Highland Residence Hall project, was completed.

The second phase includes three new residence halls - Posada, San Pedro and Pueblo de la Cienega, which have been completed and will be occupied by more than 470 students this fall.

The third phase is the Highland Market, a deli and coffee bar set to open by the end of September, according to Brian Dolan, construction manager of the project.

"It's going be a retail area to enlighten the experience of life in the new residence halls," he said.

Dolan also explained that administrators were worried that opening the market during the semester might not be a good idea if students get accustomed to frequenting other eating establishments.

However, Dolan said that once students "smell" what the Highland Market has to offer, they will most likely start eating there.

Arizona-Sonora Residence Hall

Built in 1964, this double-towered, nine-story high-rise was renovated in 1996 and is now being renovated again.

Rooms were repainted and there are new built-in furnishings, modular closet organizers and improved lighting.

The bathrooms were also renovated and new flooring and window coverings were installed.

Construction on the residence hall, located on East Fifth Street just west of North Park Avenue, began at the end of the spring semester and is expected to be completed this week.

Main Gate bus stop

The UA and the City of Tucson Transportation Department are jointly funding the construction of a new bus shelter on the east side of North Park Avenue just north of East University Boulevard.

Construction for the bus stop began in May and should be completed by the end of August.

East Sixth Street and North Park Avenue

KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The intersection of East Sixth Street and North Park Avenue will soon have a traffic light installed and will allow left and right turns.

In addition to having a traffic light installed, the intersection of East Sixth Street and North Park Avenue will be modified to allow left and right turns.

The only travel action that will be prohibited is north-south traffic on Park, according to the FDC Web site.

The intersection will also be equipped with left-turn arrows, according to the site.

The pedestrian-activated signal at East Sixth Street and North Fremont Avenue is also being modified with a new pedestrian median.

Businesses near the intersection, including the Arizona Bookstore, will remain open during construction, which is expected to be complete later this fall.

Park Student Union Bookstore

Already the home of Arizona Student Media and several restaurants, the Park Student Union is now the location of a new UofA Bookstore, which will open in the fall. The PSU opened in the spring of 2004 after being renovated.

Sam Hughes Place

Located just southeast of Arizona Stadium, this commercial, residential and retail establishment will house 55 condos, a few retail stores, a coffee shop and a gourmet pizza lounge with a bar.

Construction for this project began last December and should be completed by mid-October, said Matt Seery, the superintendent of Town West Design Development, Inc., which is working on the project.

While this project is not affiliated with the UA, a representative of Town West said that several UA students have purchased condos in the complex.

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