Fun gathering spaces highlight campus changes

June 08, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

Change is a constant through the years on Grand Canyon University’s growing campus, but this summer’s construction will result in a bevy of exciting new offerings for the start of the fall semester.

Gathering areas

An artist’s rendering of the new kitchen on the Quad.

The Quad

The green space to the north of GCU Arena became so popular with students with its tables and comfortable Adirondack chairs on a multi-tiered platform that another amenity on the north end of the square is under construction – an outdoor kitchen.

The counter-ordering venue will offer barbeque, burgers, tacos and more in another dining option made for the beautiful Phoenix weather. The Quad also will include a new sound system and new video board that is bigger than the current screen with improved daylight viewing.

The south end of Prescott Field will be a new gathering space for students, featuring a paved patio with tables, seating and plenty of shade. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Prescott Field

The Quad’s popularity sparked another idea: Take a prime spot, the big field in the middle of campus often used by the lacrosse teams, and turn it into another area that many more students can enjoy.

There still will be enough field to run about and have an impromptu flag football practice, said James Kossler, Vice President of Facilities, Planning and Operations. But a paved patio space similar to the Quad’s will be constructed near the south end of the field directly across from the Lope Shop with additional tables and seating.

Shade trees will line the west edge along the Promenade and the east side along the newly bustling area of shaded seating outside Roadrunner Apartments adjoining GCBC. The Lope Shop’s shade canopy will create a covered patio on the north side of the store and an added outdoor merchandise area for special events.

An artist’s rendering of the expanded event space in Thunderground.


The six-lane bowling alley is being removed for more event and hangout space and popular attractions, such as pool, ping-pong, virtual reality and more.

Events in the space sometimes attract hundreds of students, and Thunderground supervisor Danny Williamson III said it made sense to add the space that only two dozen could use to bowl. Shows, concerts and events such as the Canyon Activities Board’s movie nights will have more room for a theatre experience, and GCU clubs will have space for their socials and dances.

Williamson said that also means Thunderground’s own productions, such as trivia and game nights and karaoke, will be better than ever.

Added dining option

An artist’s rendering of the new GCU Arena sit-down restaurant, expected to open by the fall semester.

GCU Arena’s new restaurant

A sit-down restaurant will occupy the space on the west side of GCU Arena, formally used as the Antelope Reception Center and as a Lopes Club location before sporting events.

The sports grill-themed restaurant, yet to be named, will be similar to Canyon 49 on 27th Avenue. A patio to the west will provide more seating between the Arena and the Jerry Colangelo Museum.

“This also will allow students on the main campus to walk to it and have a place to sit down for table service for lunch or dinner or a late night snack that is not a fast-food option,” Kossler said.

New student housing

Construction of Oak Creek Apartments (foreground) will be completed by August. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

This year …

It wouldn’t be summer without more student housing construction. Two six-story apartment complexes with 600 beds, with a footprint similar to The Rivers and other new apartments, will be completed by the start of the fall semester.

Oak Creek Apartments, north of Ponderosa, and Turquoise Apartments, east of Diamondback, will bring the number of living areas on campus to 30 and the total number of beds to approximately 17,500.

A second Purple Greens will be added to the ground floor of Turquoise. Purple Greens will remain in the Arena, but the new location will feature all the familiar healthy bowls and add a new name and expanded menu that includes noodles and salads, said Jessica Maichel, Director of Marketing for Sodexo.

… And next year

Construction starts this summer for two additional apartment buildings near 29th Avenue and Colter Street. They will be seven stories and 735 beds and are scheduled to be completed by fall of 2023.

Other moves/additions

The area inside Building 66 used by doctoral learners will be the new Learning Lounge. (Photo by Ralph Freso)

Learning Lounge

Currently occupying the ground floor of Building 16, it will move to Building 66 on 27th Avenue in August. Offering free tutoring to K-12 students, it will occupy the space that was used by Doctoral Studies and includes a generous central hub, more classroom space and a waiting area for parents, said Shari Stagner, Director of K-12 Outreach.

The Learning Lounge also will work in association with CityServe in the same building to offer programming at the hub of community outreach. Doctoral will hold its residencies off campus.

One more positive change

A stoplight will be added to the intersection of 29th Avenue and Camelback Road.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.


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