Campus facilities fine-tuned this summer

Construction continues on the Gila River student apartments, set to open in 2025.

Photos by Ralph Freso

Grand Canyon University is known for its robust campus growth over the past 15 years. What not long ago was a handful of buildings on 90 acres now is 300 acres filled with 32 residential living areas, 32 dining options and numerous lecture halls, fields, stadiums, parking ramps and more.

Summer was often a time of fast-paced construction.

“I would call this summer more fine-tuning,” said James Kossler, vice president of Facilities Planning and Operations.

Here is what’s happening with campus facilities this summer.

Construction has begun where a new traffic signal and campus entrance will be installed at 29th Avenue and Camelback Road.

Traffic improvements

  • After a traffic study by the city of Phoenix and GCU, it was determined that a stoplight was needed at Camelback and 29th Avenue. Last summer, GCU acquired north 29th Avenue from Camelback Road to Missouri Avenue. Now, with a new entrance and light, those exiting on busy Camelback Road can finally make that tricky left turn.
  • The entrance on Camelback-31st Avenue also will be configured to be the student drop off location, instead of the main entrance on 33rd Avenue that often gets busy and clogged during the school year. There will be a turnstile gate entered with a badge key and a turnaround loop.
  • Scooters are a big part of traffic on campus and are becoming numerous, so a scooter parking area will be added north of Cathedral Rock (Building 3) with structures to lock them up.

Big projects on the horizon

  • Construction continues on Gila River Apartments on the east side of campus, scheduled for completion by next summer. It’s in the complex called The Rivers off 29th Avenue and is modeled after the seven-story apartments nearby, Santa Cruz and Copper, which opened last fall.
  • A new state-of-the-art solar array installation will begin in spring on top of Garage 44, at the corner of Camelback Road and N. 31st Avenue. Scheduled to be complete before the 2025-26 academic year, the project will not only supply shaded top-floor parking but provide the University with 3,427,950 kilowatt-hours of electricity, saving the equivalent of 167,000 gallons of gas and offsetting about 4% of the university’s energy consumption. The installation of the solar array is made possible through a partnership with Scout Solar, a Tempe-based solar company.
The counter in the second floor of the Student Union will be renovated and become part of GCBC’s mobile pickup.

Improved facility spaces

  • The recently acquired buildings adjacent to Colter Field called Joshua North and Joshua South had a soft launch last semester but will be in full use this fall as large classroom or event spaces that each can seat 200.
  • Expanded space for ROTC in Kaibab and the Test Center in Saguaro.

Dining

  • While no new eateries are yet planned, improvements will be made to Habit Burger and Subway, with new seating, painting and other refreshing updates this summer. Also, the Student Union GCBC is adding a counter for pickup of mobile orders just to the left of the main counter, thereby cutting down lines during busy times.
New pickleball courts near the tennis courts are among 10 installed in 2024.

Pickleball

  • It’s worth noting that pickleball courts are now official. While a launch of the popular racquet sport occurred last academic year in various iterations, the 10 new courts – six near the tennis courts and four in The Grove – were completed in the spring and can now expect full use. “The pickleball courts were popping before school ended,” said Matt Lamb, campus recreation director. “This year, we will have a fall and spring Intramural league, and there is also a Pickleball Club Sport team.”

Other notes

  • Global Credit Union Arena lettering is added to the exterior of the structure, the final step in the name change that occurred last year.
  • Thunder Alley is getting a new skin, that wavy roof dome on the building best known for housing a Taco Bell.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected]

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Related content:

GCU News: Street changes add safety, greater movement to east side of campus

GCU News: Grand Canyon University, Global Credit Union agree to multi-year naming rights partnership for campus arena

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