What's new on and around campus
While the pace of daily life around the University definitely slows during the summer, it doesn't completely stop. And while some of us stick around, others leave for a few weeks or even longer.
Regardless of where you spent your summer, several projects hummed along between the time the spring semester ended and when classes resumed this week. Some are obvious, some are in the background, and some are underground.
Two campus construction projects that made great strides are the Grand Challenges Research Building on North Cherry Avenue across from the Main Library, and the Applied Research Building, on East Helen Street north of East Speedway Boulevard. The former reached its full height this month and soon will start taking its final shape as trucks cart in a series of external panels through the end of October. The Applied Research Building neared the home stretch, heading for a January finish, with masonry and metal panels going up on the outside, and drywall, mechanical, plumbing and electrical work proceeding on the inside.
Just two blocks east on Helen Street, work began in earnest this month on the new Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. The $23 million, donor-funded project will feature three buildings surrounded by desert gardens and will serve as a "living lab" for collaborative research in integrative medicine, including the testing and development of new building systems and technologies focused on place and well-being.
"Excavation just started over the summer, but once it starts gaining a little height and coming out of the ground, people will definitely notice it," said Melissa Dryden, senior program coordinator with Planning, Design and Construction. "We did our best to plan it so the work would have minimal effect on parking and traffic in the surrounding area. Watch for signs and be patient with pedestrians."
Anyone who drove along the eastern edge of campus on North Campbell Avenue would have noticed another major project: the installation of a water retention system underneath the Mall. Huge mounds of dirt appeared between Campbell and Cherry as work began to build basins using hundreds of feet of corrugated steel.
Those basins, which are now buried, will mitigate longtime flooding issues on the east end of campus by capturing rainwater.
Once completed, Dryden said, the system will accommodate a one-hour downpour of up to 2.3 inches. The storage volume of the underground tanks is 1.74 million gallons – approximately enough water to cover the Arizona Stadium football field to a depth of 5 feet. Dryden says the water that is captured will dissipate into the ground beneath the Mall.
The system could be expanded in the future to store up to 2.54 million gallons.
Grass panels will be installed over the excavated area, which should reopen to pedestrians in September.
Updates to campus-area eateries
Two new spots have opened their doors in Main Gate Square, which is owned by the Marshall Foundation, a private foundation established by the University's first female professor, Louise Foucar Marshall, and her husband.
Craft popsicle vendor Peace, Love and Pops opened on University Boulevard west of Tyndall Avenue while juice bar Berry Greens opened its second location – the first is downtown – on Park Avenue north of University Boulevard and coming soon to that same stretch Pink Moon promises to offer an eclectic selection of sustainably source home goods, stationery, and gifts.
They will be joined by two new restaurants. Agave House, located on the northwest corner of University and Park in the space that had been occupied by The Dutch, will offer Mexican cuisine. The Union Jack, opening in the former Auld Dubliner digs at the corner of University and Euclid Avenue, will serve British fare.
Staying close to campus, a trio of eateries got, or will get, new digs. Jack in the Box has returned to its longtime location on the southwest corner of Speedway and Park, but now operates out of the ground floor of a private residential tower. Cheba Hut fans now can find the sandwich shop in Sam Hughes Place on Sixth Street and Campbell Avenue, very close to its previous location on Sixth Street. And the total remodel of the Taco Bell at Speedway and Campbell should wrap up in the next few weeks.
One thing that hasn't changed much since May: Getting into and out of downtown Tucson remains a bit of a challenge. On the northern edge, the old intersection of Sixth Street and Stone Avenue is permanently closed as part of a road realignment associated with the Downtown Links improvement project. Meanwhile, just east of the city's center, the paving work being done as part of the Broadway Improvement Project is nearing an end.
"Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians should watch for changes to lane configurations around the Downtown Links work zone," said Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility Public Information Officer Erica Frazelle. "Sixth (Street) and Sixth (Avenue) reopened over the summer, allowing the underpass to open into and out of Downtown. And if you are traveling eastbound on St. Mary's Road from the west, take Church Avenue to Franklin Street and Toole Avenue to bypass the Sixth Street closure at Stone."
As a reminder for those looking for easier ways to get downtown, the Sun Link streetcar and Sun Tran buses remain free through Dec. 31.
There's a welcome development for bicyclists, too. When completed in October, the Treat Avenue Bicycle Boulevard – stretching from the Rillito River Park to the Aviation Bikeway – will run 6 miles, connecting six schools, five parks and three greenways. The north-south boulevard, running between Tucson Boulevard and Country Club Road, intersects with the existing Third Street Bike Boulevard, which runs from Main Avenue downtown east to Wilmot Road, bisecting campus.
Find a map and further details about construction projects throughout campus on the University's Fall 2022 Construction Project Update page.