Campus expansion will reach even more students
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Darryl Webb
GCU News Bureau
As if a new engineering building and a state-of-the-art recording studio weren’t enough …
As if four new residence halls for freshmen, creating a new community called The Grove, weren’t enough …
As if expanded and revolutionized food options, in a corridor christened Lopes Way, weren’t enough …
Tentative completion times for the 12 projects underway on GCU’s campus and at its 27th Avenue office complex:
MARCH: Hotel pool
… There are even more construction projects — 12, to be exact — scheduled to be completed this year at Grand Canyon University. (Click here for a slideshow.) And according to Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin, the impact of the most important change, a new administration building right in the middle of everything at the intersection of the Promenade and Lopes Way, will be even more positive than all the changes in 2015.
“It doesn’t have the transformational feel that Lopes Way did, but in terms of the DNA of how student life happens on this campus as a result of student leadership, I actually think it may be more transformational,” he said. “We really think it’s going to exponentially expand our impact.”
The location of Griffin’s office in the four-story structure will be appropriately accessible. The door will be in the northeast corner, with the Student Union and Thunder Alley just a few steps away.
Right next to it on the first floor, also with outside entrances, will be the offices of the Canyon Activities Board, Spiritual Life, Life Leaders and Associated Students of GCU. Both Griffin and Jeremy Mack, director of the Office of Student Engagement, emphasized how important the one-stop shopping aspect will be.
“Sometimes students are in the moment, so they just want to stop by real quick,” Mack said. “If they have to deviate from that path because of going to class or going to get something to eat, sometimes they lose that thought.
“That’ll be really nice to be right there. They just swing through on their way to class or on their way to lunch or whatever it is and get their questions answered.”
Student Engagement and Spiritual Life will fill the first floor of the building, while Career Services, Residence Life and the newly created Housing department will take up the second floor. Athletics will occupy the third floor, and the executive team and a number of other departments will be on the top floor.
While the building is scheduled to be completed by the end of March, the various offices aren’t expected to be in place until after the school year ends. Two other quick notes about it: (1) In case you’ve walked by and have wondered why the roof is slanted, there’s a simple reason — better drainage. And (2) construction crews were able to preserve the large iconic palm trees along the Promenade despite their close proximity to the building.
Right next to the administration building is the soccer stadium, which is getting the finishing touches on the roof and seating. It also is scheduled to be finished by the end of March, in plenty of time for the men’s and women’s soccer teams to get accustomed to it before the first games in August.
To the south, at the front of campus near Camelback Road, will be the second major engineering building to be erected in the past year. It will open in two phases — classrooms in August, labs shortly after.
The rest of the building activity is on the east side of campus and at 27th Avenue and Camelback Road.
More housing for more students
GCU’s residential community will get nearly 2,000 more beds, bringing the campus total to 11,000, with the addition of three apartment buildings scheduled to open for the 2016-17 school year. Returning students will get first crack at the apartments, which feature the privacy of single-person bedrooms.
All three six-story buildings will be in the same style as Papago I and II, which opened in 2014 to rave reviews from students. Agave is on 30th Avenue north of GCU’s offices on Colter Avenue, Encanto is just south of Papago II and Roadrunner is where the Tell Science building used to be.
To accommodate the continued expansion of campus life, the Housing department, directed by Janay Poole, was spun off from Residence Life. Here’s a factoid that demonstrates why that move was necessary: The number of resident advisers will be up to almost 300 in August, about 100 more than just two years earlier.
Residence Life, like Student Engagement and Spiritual Life, will benefit greatly from being in the new administration building in terms of location and accessibility. “Having a space where students can interact with staff has always been the standard,” said Matt Hopkins, Residence Life director.
Work also has begun on the new parking garage at 29th Avenue and Camelback Road, which will be the same size as The Grove Garage on the northwest corner of campus. It will have space for 2,400 cars and, like the new apartments, is scheduled to be open for the start of the next school year.
The number of recreational areas on campus continues to grow as well. New intramural fields at 30th and Colter avenues opened this month, and another artificial-turf field and sand volleyball and basketball courts next to Cypress and Canyon halls are expected to open this spring (click here to read GCU Today’s story about the booming intramural program).
There also is plenty of activity at the GCU office and hotel complex on Camelback between 27th Avenue and Interstate 17.
An office building and parking garage, both four stories, are expected to be ready by November. That will enable the University to centralize operations by bringing employees from the Peoria and Tempe offices to work in west Phoenix.
The nearby Grand Canyon University Hotel also has two significant additions opening in the next few months. The new swimming pool is on course to be ready in March, and the new lobby and restaurant, which will go on the 27th Avenue side of the building, are expected to be complete by summer.
Rich Oesterle, director of campus development, said the campus and 27th Avenue complex will fill 7.6 million square feet after these 12 projects are done. And while there’s no doubt that more are on the horizon, the main part of campus is getting closer to becoming a finished product. The transformation is in good shape.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or [email protected]