Downtown Dorms

By Terry Ertter | September 28, 2010

Progress on ASU's two Taylor Place dormitory towers as of mid-March, with Tower One, the south tower, in the foreground. Photo by Terry Ertter.

When Arizona State University welcomes students for the fall semester this year, far more of them will be living in downtown Phoenix with the opening of new student housing in Taylor Place.

The university's profile downtown has changed dramatically since ASU opened its downtown Phoenix campus in the fall of 2006. University College, the College of Public Programs and the College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation were the trailblazing colleges that moved from Tempe to the new downtown Phoenix campus. Construction cranes soon were soaring over the campus on a pair of sites west of the College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation at Taylor and Third streets. The first crane showed up in late 2006 at the site of the new Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication building between Central Avenue and First Street. A few months later, Austin Commercial began construction of Taylor Place, two 14-story towers for student housing adjacent to the Cronkite building.

The new residential community has a 40,000-square-foot footprint and will house approximately 1,300 students and provide new retail options to the campus Tower One will open this fall, and the second tower is slated to open during 2009. The north and south towers are connected at ground level by a dining hall. The roof of the dining hall features an outdoor plaza area and a fitness center. Open-air bridges on every residential floor will connect the two towers to a central elevator.

Suntec Concrete of Phoenix built the framework for the new facility using cast-in-place (CIP) concrete with a column-hung deck forming system that worked well with for the exposed ceilings. The architect, Smith Group, showcased lots of exposed concrete inside and out according to Suntec project manager Matt Rogers. Architectural formwork was used to form the columns from level 2-roof on the south façade of the southern tower. Inside the cafeteria, the flooring on the ground levels will be exposed grind finish concrete with a saw pattern cut to simulate large tiles.

Rogers says Suntec committed to pouring a floor-a-week on both towers before construction began in May of 2007. Using a column-hung forming system allowed trades to get in and work on each new level as soon as pouring was complete without having to deal with re-shoring for the levels being built above them. "It kept everybody working within a floor of our crews," says Rogers.

"That was crucial to allow us all to complete our work by the deadline. We topped off right before Christmas, and now we're just doing some interior slab-on-grade and site work. Tower One and the dining hall are on schedule to open in August."

Suntec poured 17,840 cubic yards of concrete to create 335,000 square feet of the structure. The exterior stair walls were the only concrete structure not poured on-site. The stairs walls are tilt-panel concrete that were poured and trucked in from off-site, then erected and tied into the cap-in-place shear walls and post-tension slabs.

Rogers notes that a portion of the mix used in Taylor Place is high-strength concrete. "The concrete industry has made major advances of mix designs in recent years," he states. "We have some 10,000-psi concrete on this job and quite a bit of 8,000-psi concrete. We have jobs coming up soon that will use 12,000-psi concrete."

The new towers have already added significantly to the downtown Phoenix skyline. They join the new Sheraton Hotel, the Cronkite Building, a condominium tower at 44 Monroe and the new north wing of the Phoenix Convention Center — all within a few blocks.

In addition to the new construction, several older buildings nearby have become part of the ASU campus. The old Post Office on Central continues to offer retail postal operations and post office boxes, with ASU offices on the second floor and select areas of the first floor. The former Arizona Public Service building just south of the Cronkite School is now known as University Center, housing classrooms, faculty and staff offices, the campus library and café among other services. ASUs Mercado offers classrooms, nursing simulation labs and faculty and staff offices.

When the greatly increased student population shows up for classes in August, ASU's presence downtown will be even harder to ignore. Phoenix officials are counting on the university and those new students to help transform the city's core and create new opportunities for retail, entertainment and other businesses.

Austin Commercial's website page for the Taylor Place project is: The Taylor Place website is: