Photos: ASU renovates Manzanita Hall, landmark dormitory

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by Tyson Milanovich

Video report by Kaley O'Kelley

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Updated Thursday, May 10 at 2:21 PM

Map: Manzanita Hall, ASU Tempe

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- For nearly five decades, Manzanita Hall on Arizona State University's Tempe campus has stood 15-stories tall along University Drive. 

It was originally built back in 1967 at a cost of $3.6 million and was the tallest building in Tempe until construction of the Centerpoint Towers (now known as West Sixth).

"Manzy" served as home to about 1,000 students each year, but after nearly five decades of service, the building was in need of a major makeover.

Rather than tear it down, university planners decided to strip the building down to the bare concrete and rebuild. 

In May 2011, ASU housing officials closed the building to begin a two-year renovation.

"After the students were moved out, then we proceeded with all the demolition and (asbestos) abatement," said university architect Ed Soltero. 

Soltero is overseeing construction on the $50 million project to bring new life to the iconic building.

He gave 3TV a hard-hat tour of the building construction, and a sneak peek at two of the mock-up rooms already completed.

When complete, Soltero said the renovation will decrease capacity.

"The idea was to gut that [the building], and then come up with 815 beds with these very unique concepts of neighborhoods," Soltero said. 

One of the keys to those "neighborhoods" will be new two-story lounges.

"A lot of the learning actually happens in places like this, not only in the classroom" Soltero said.

Two of the building's four notoriously unreliable elevators will be replaced with gurney-style lifts, which should come in handy during move-in and move-out. The other two will be rebuilt.

Construction should be complete in time for the fall 2013 semester. 

The project is being constructed in partnership with American Campus Communities, a private housing provider. 

American Campus Communities has partnered with the university on a handful of past projects, including Vista del Sol and the Hassayampa Academic Village.

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