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New nursing college building opens in downtown Phoenix

ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation, downtown Phoenix (Photo: ASU)

[Source: Arizona State University] — The College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University dedicated its new building today at a time it is experiencing the most significant changes in its 52-year history.  Change has impacted every part of the college — faculty and staff, leadership, curriculum, name, strategic mission, and facilities.  “Change is inevitable everywhere today, and without change, there is no innovation,” Dean Bernadette Melnyk said.  “Most people fear change, but not here at ASU.  We see change as a huge opportunity for innovation and building strength.  Our recent changes mark the dawn of a new era for our college and multiply opportunities for students, faculty and staff.”

An impressive new five story 84,000 square foot building is the most visible of the changes in the college.  Construction of the building was completed in only 16 months in time to open for fall semester.  “This expansion provides the best facilities we have ever had and helps facilitate the integration of new programs into our college,” said Dean Melnyk.  “The additional building provides much needed space to continue to offer the highest quality of educational programs and the most cutting-edge research to guide best practices, as well as the opportunity to continue to launch innovative initiatives that will improve the health of Arizona residents.” 

The ASU dean praised the City, general contractor DPR Construction, architectural firm SmithGroup, and the ASU implementation team for working together to build a signature building on budget and on schedule.  The City of Phoenix and ASU partnered to build the campus and the new nursing building as part of a city bond issue that voters passed in 2006. 

Serving as the northern gateway to the new ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus, the glass and copper structure includes a 200-seat auditorium, classrooms, student facilities, and faculty office and research space.  The building includes several sustainable elements and outside public spaces that provide shaded green areas with a water feature.  As a part of ASU’s restructuring in the spring of 2009, several health-related programs of the former School of Applied Arts and Sciences at the Polytechnic Campus were merged into the ASU nursing college.  The Exercise and Wellness, Nutrition, and Health Sciences programs became part of the college.  [Note: Read the full article at New nursing college building opens in downtown Phoenix.]

Enjoy a sneak peek of the new ASU College of Nursing & Health Innovation


Mark Kranz of SmithGroup, project architect, explaining the building to tour-goers (Photo source: Steve Weiss)

Last Monday, members of the Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee and City of Phoenix staff were given a tour of the new ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation building in downtown Phoenix. Click here for a “behind the scenes” look at the building’s interior, courtesy of photographer Steve Weiss.

ASU’s downtown Phoenix nursing building finishing construction

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — It may seem like a strange time to wrap up construction for a $39 million addition to ASU’s nursing school in downtown Phoenix.  Faced with university-wide budget cuts, the College of Nursing & Health Innovation plans to cut admissions by 26 percent this fall.  The Legislature is working on a fiscal 2010 budget that is likely to include more higher-education cuts.  And many expect that there will be future belt-tightening at Arizona State University.  But a critical need for space makes the new copper-covered building at 550 N. Third St. necessary, said Bernadette Melnyk, dean of the nursing school.  The building is scheduled to open in August. “We have found ways to move some exciting things forward,” Melnyk said as she watched crews paint walls and prep the building’s floors for tile and carpet.  “There are some silver linings.”

The nursing school will admit fewer students this fall, but that won’t solve the space crunch downtown, university officials say.  At the 3-year-old campus, classrooms are shared by several departments, and those rooms are near capacity, officials said.  Plus, ASU plans to add other units, such as exercise, nutrition and public health programs, to the nursing school.  The nursing school’s existing building at 500 N. Third St. doesn’t have classrooms or enough offices or places for students to gather, the dean added.

The new building sits at an intersection where many drivers enter the downtown campus.  The community wanted a building that has presence, said lead design architect Mark Kranz of SmithGroup, the firm that worked on the project. A fire staircase that faces Third and Fillmore streets will be enclosed in frosted glass and will glow at night, he said.  The building has a copper skin — a nod to Arizona’s mining roots — that won’t turn green because there is less moisture in Valley air than in other climates, Kranz said.  “It will wear, just like a penny in your pocket,” he said. Over the next few weeks, glass will go up on the outside staircase, said Peter Berg of DPR Construction Inc. Most of the work has shifted to inside the building, he said.

The project was funded by two types of city bonds.  Nearly $30 million came from a package of city bond projects approved by voters in 2006. Later, when the city and ASU decided to increase the size of the building, Phoenix covered the $10 million in additional costs using excise tax bonds.  The excise tax bonds were specially designated for construction.  They could not be used to fund jobs or programs at ASU or Phoenix. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

ASU planning students getting involved in downtown issues

ASU college students are getting out of the classroom and into the “real world” of urban planning issues by attending public meetings, helping local non-profit organizations and neighborhood associations, and encouraging others to “get involved.”  One surge in interest came as a result of ASU School of Planning students hearing that City of Phoenix officials, SmithGroup Architects, and ASU staff were asking for variances to the proposed ASU College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation contrary to their public pronouncements about shade, sustainability, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, and support for Urban Form design concepts.

Students attended a key January 23rd meeting called by the City of Phoenix to resolve issues brought forward by groups such as Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Downtown Voices Coalition.  They vow to continue to stay on top of this and other downtown planning issues by attending future public meetings, voicing their opinions, and communicating news and events via their “Planners@ASU” listserv newsletter.

According to Katherine Kittrell, ASU School of Planning student, “Planners@ASU” provides the framework for communication and interaction within an intellectual climate for the exchange of ideas and ideals, for lively scholarly fellowship, and for stimulation of interest in professional planning as an evolutionary and revolutionary engagement.