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Construction continues to alter campus

MELISSA HALTERMAN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Delfino Pacheco of Tucson cuts a brick at the La Aldea construction site located on the southwest corner of campus.
By Greg Holt
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 10, 2003

Building construction has dramatically changed the face of the UA campus in recent years.

Grandest of all was the construction of the new Student Union Memorial Center, completed January 2003 at a cost of $60 million. At over 400,000 square feet, the new Student Union is one of the largest in the country.

The Student Union offers students and visitors numerous choices for dining and entertainment. Food outlets include Cafˇ Sonora, the Cactus Grill, 3 Cheeses and a Noodle, Cellar Restaurant and Lounge, Chick-fil-A and the On Deck Deli.

For entertainment, the union has video games and billiards at Wilbur's Underground and movies in the Gallagher Theater. The building also houses the UA Bookstore.

The walkway between the main student union and the bookstore building has been designed to look like the side of the USS Arizona, a battleship sunk in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Student Union Memorial Center replaced the Memorial Student Union built in 1951. The old union had become functionally obsolete and physically deteriorated, according to the UA Department of Facilities Design and Construction.

Across the UA Mall from McKale Center lies the Steve Eller Dance Theater, the new home to the highly regarded UA Dance Department.

A $10.5 million expansion to the Gittings Complex, the new dance building houses a 300 seat dance theater as well as new dance studios. Old dance facilities had become inadequate housing for the expanding department.

"It's fabulous, it's like a piece of sculpture. I think the architects did a great job," said Jory Hancock, head of the School of Dance.

We've tried to build residence halls that break down into friendship groups of eight to 10 people.

- Jim Van Arsdel
director of Residence Life


Phoenix-based Gould Evans Associates gave the new dance building a unique design that would emit a sense of movement and organic flow, Hancock said.

"Students we recruit are often choosing between the UA and such schools as Julliard. This theater gives us a way to offer them more incentive to come here," Hancock said.

Two thirds of the cost of the new dance building was paid for with private donations.

A complex featuring three residence halls at the corner of Highland Avenue and Sixth Street is nearing completion. Known as the Highland District Housing, the complex is scheduled to be completed Feb. 2004 at a cost of almost $40 million.

Students have already moved into one of the dorms, Villa del Puente, and it is considered by many to be the most elaborate dorm on campus. Its amenities include a dance floor, a grand piano and a game room featuring ping pong and pool tables.

"Students really like the new dorm. I've heard that they like the sizes of their rooms and that it's a quiet building," said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.

The dorms of the Highland District Housing have been designed to foster a sense of community among residents. In Villa del Puente, each wing has no more than 20 students and bridges connect the second and third floors of its two buildings.

"We've tried to build residence halls that break down into friendship groups of eight to 10 people," Van Arsdel said.

The Park Student Union is under major renovation and expansion. The project will add nearly 17,000 square feet to its 29,000 square feet of existing space, and is expected to cost just over $6 million.

The expansion will add a terrace to the west of the existing building and the interior of the building will be outfitted for use by Arizona Student Media, UA Bookstore and Residence Life in addition to offering students dining services and lounge space.

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