Christopher Ford | University Center

University Center


Located on ASU’s Downtown Campus, the University Center serves as both a metaphorical and physical gateway into the campus due to its immediate proximity to Civic Space Park to the West and Taylor Mall to the North. However, in its current condition the structure lacks a definitive response to this role as it fails to acknowledge the University’s ideals and goals both aesthetically and functionally. While some renovations have been made over the years in an attempt to modernize the facility, it still maintains the identity of a building whose ownership has been dominated by the First National Bank of Arizona since its construction in 1955.

In an attempt to better respond to its context and role as a gateway, five simple yet impactful alterations were implemented in order to bring the building into the 21st century while making it an amenity for the University and the city as a whole. Guided by its context, these alterations were made in response to the existing shortcomings of the structure in hopes that the resulting facility would better respond to its role as the University’s gateway and a major piece of the Downtown urban fabric.

Given the nature of the “skin” studio, the focus of this project was primarily placed on the sculptural louver system that dominates the building’s facade. The design of this system was derived from the prevalence of dynamic movement patterns in and around the building, specifically along Taylor Mall and Central Avenue. The color palette of the system responds to the neighboring Walter Cronkite School of Journalism while the sculptural qualities of the louvers were designed to complement the sculptural nature of Civic Space Park, specifically the Janet Echelman sculpture that dominates the park’s skyline. Additionally, the details of the louver system, including its spacing, thickness, and construction, were all based on a rigorous design process that resulted in a system that maintains the aforementioned aesthetic goals while also allowing for the maximum sustainability and performance of the system.