U of A opens downtown campus

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- If you've spotted more U of A students downtown this school year it's not your imagination.

This weekend the College of Architecture is celebrating the opening of its downtown campus on the corner of Stone and Pennington.

"I think in any one day you're going to see over 100 students down here," said U of A Dean of Architecture Jan Cervelli.

It used to be a Walgreens.  Now the historic Roy Place is a downtown campus for the University of Arizona's College of Architecture.

"It's one thing for students to study things in a theoretical sense, at a distance, its another to be engaged in those issues and help form the city over time," said Dean Cervelli.

The U of A acquired the building from Pima County last winter.  Construction crews worked around the clock to renovate it in time for the start of school.

"The idea that we actually have a storefront in downtown Arizona means that we have a visible presence downtown," said Drachman Institute Director Brooks Jeffery.

The building will feature classrooms, access to university libraries and a new retail store operated by UA Bookstores.

"Just being downtown, in the downtown environment is good to see other people walking around, not just professors or students, but people of all different colors and life," said U of A Architecture Professor Bill Mackey.

The students and staff will work with the county and city to develop more eco-friendly architecture in Tucson.

"We're neighbors and we should be working together to solve the problems and critical issues related to sustainable urban development together," said Jeffery.

Roy Place will serve as the UA's downtown campus for at least the next five years.  Then there will be an option to renew the lease for another five.

"There's going to be housing downtown and slowly people are going to be coming, creating a critical mass for university downtown," said Jeffery.