The essence of the project is about balancing the historic integrity of the building with the new forward looking and flexible 21st century spaces for teaching and learning. The building must, at once, look back and always forward. Balance in this design context is just as much about creation as it is about preservation. The project is a design-build partnership with Sundt Construction, Shepley Bulfinch, and Poster Mirto McDonald whose expertise in historic preservation provided instrumental guidance on the design approach.
Balance in design is also about creating environments that are inclusive to all experiences. Accessibility was implemented in ways that enhanced the presence of the historic building along the historic mall. The reimagined entrances and navigation through the building provide universal access where it had not been previously. The design focuses on equitable experiences for all who interact with the newly renovated building: the way students and faculty enter or exit the space, how community interactions occur, how study space is used, and how all community members can participate in social events.
Historic renovations often uncover the unexpected. The project’s success can be attributed to the strong design-build partnership and the core values of the University of Arizona, which served as drivers throughout programming and design. The Chemistry Building and The Commons will now stitch together the sciences with the larger community, creating a fusion of academics and community.