Downtown Phoenix campus showcases safety features

August 27, 2008

Students who live and learn at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus may be considered pioneers, but they won’t encounter the Wild West when it comes to safety.

Richard Wilson, ASU Police commander at the Downtown Phoenix campus, said the area offers a safe environment for students as the 2008 fall semester commences. Download Full Image

“There’s a higher saturation of police and private security in this area than anywhere else in the city,” Wilson said. “We spend more time fighting perception than crime in this area.”

Students will learn firsthand about the area and resources available to them on Campus Safety Day, held Sept. 4 at the University Center, 411 N. Central Ave. Hosted by The Public Safety Advisory Committee and Environmental Health and Safety, the event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes educational booths, visual aides and hand-out information.

“The administration of the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus in conjunction with the city of Phoenix is committed to creating and sustaining a community environment that is safe and productive for students, faculty and all members of the community. We believe that in order to provide a safe and productive learning environment, we must partner with our students and provide them not only with a strong police and security presence on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, but also provide opportunities for them to actively engage in the promotion of personal and community safety,” said Kimberly Novak, director for student and campus community development for the Downtown Phoenix campus.

A team of 23 ASU Police aides, eight officers and security personnel monitor the campus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ASU Police officers also have a strong working relationship with the Phoenix Police Department and confer frequently on matters of mutual interest and concern. Three officers from the Phoenix Police Department are assigned to ASU as special liaison officers that support the campus by participating in educational programs, intentionally engaging with students in their daily routines at the campus, and by serving on campus task forces aimed at enhancing safety. These officers regularly exchange information with ASU.

The Downtown Operations Unit of Phoenix PD patrol the campus and serve as the primary policy entity. More ASU officers will be added by the end of the semester, Wilson said.

“The crime rate in this area is very low because of the amount of patrol zones and officers in the area,” said Phoenix Police Lieutenant Jeff Lazell. “In addition to our regular patrol officers, we have bike, foot and mounted patrols, parking enforcement and liaison officers that are constantly looking for suspicious activity. It’s one of the safest sections of the city.”

Members of the public and the ASU community can stay safe by taking common sense measures such as walking at night with a partner or escort, staying in lit areas and avoiding alleys.

Wilson said making the ASU Downtown campus a safe and secure place is a balancing act between police, security, merchants and students.

“There’s a balance between anxiety and complacency, which is why we host a lot of educational programs and seminars throughout the year,” Wilson said. “Crime happens in neighborhoods, shopping malls and campuses. We try to mitigate those crimes of opportunity through visibility and interaction with the community.”

Brent Alex, a journalism major who moved into Taylor Place last week, said he certainly felt comfortable in his new surroundings.

“I knew coming in that the area is safe to be around,” Alex said. “With Taylor Place security, the ASU and Phoenix Police, it’s easy for any student to see how safe DPC can be if students take their responsibilities seriously.”

In addition to ASU and Phoenix police personnel, Copper Square Ambassadors patrol the area by foot, on horseback or on bikes. Private security officers who patrol Arizona Center, Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory and the Mercado assist in monitoring the downtown Phoenix area contiguous to the campus and beyond. Campus safety escorts are also available from ASU Police aides 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Other safety and security initiatives include:

• Downtown Phoenix campus and City of Phoenix officials have worked together to develop streetscape and lighting improvements that take crime prevention into consideration.

• Emergency call boxes are located in the parking garages and surface lot at University Center and the College, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Nursing & Healthcare Innovation and Taylor Place residence hall.

• Direct-dial 911 phones are located in the lobbies of all campus buildings.

• ASU and DPS officials in conjunction with the Phoenix Police Department coordinate campus security alert distributions when appropriate.

• The DPS Crime Prevention Unit offers safety programs and events throughout the year. Women’s self defense programs will be regularly scheduled for the DPC.

• Student Affairs at ASU has developed a proactive risk-management program that is fully integrated into its operations. Student Affairs staff monitor and evaluate programs, systems, protocols and practices for potential or perceived risks and take corrective action to mitigate those risks.

• Taylor Place residence hall staff have been be trained by police officials, Environmental Health and Safety staff and Student Affairs staff in facility safety, emergency response and strategies for educating residents about personal safety.

• Taylor Place is equipped with 24-hour security, approximately 70 video surveillance cameras and an electronic access system to gain entrance to the 13-story residence hall after 7 p.m. and on weekends.

ASU celebrates re-opening of MU on Tempe campus

August 27, 2008

The dust has settled, the paint is dry, the fence is down and all the floors are open. Just in time for the fall semester Arizona State University is ready to celebrate the re-opening of its renovated Memorial">">Memorial Union on the Tempe campus.

Originally built in 1954, the Memorial Union is the center of student life on the Tempe Campus. Nearly 25,000 guests pass through its doors daily.

A fire in November 2007 shut down the Memorial Union temporarily. While the lower level and first floor food court were open within 60 days, the severely damaged second floor and third floor were closed for renovation.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved $53 million to repair and renovate the MU, with an anticipated $40 million coming from insurance reimbursements and $13 million paid from bond money for upgrades planned before the fire.

The university hired the architecture firm Studio Ma, Inc. and CORE Construction to undertake a full renovation of the second floor, upgrade to current building codes and to match or exceed the high standards of quality used in the recently constructed campus buildings. The second floor houses meeting rooms and ballrooms and for many visitors, it is the “front door” experience to the ASU campus.

“For the past 50 years the Memorial Union has been central to our campus, offering a gathering place for students, faculty staff and visitors to engage,” says Kellie Lowe, MU director. “Throughout the renovation, every decision we made was based on meeting the needs of our students and the ASU community. The newly remodeled MU will be an area on campus that our students can enjoy and be proud of.”

The entire building has been brought to current fire code compliance and a comprehensive fire sprinkler system and fire detection and alarm system were installed. Three existing stairwells were redesigned and two new stairwells were constructed to add new points of entry and exit, especially during an emergency.

The design team was charged with creating a “collegiate” style that was unique to ASU, one that would evoke the qualities of the desert environment and the forward looking vision and high standards of the New American University.

The design and construction of the 95,000sf renovation was accomplished over a period of five months. The space has been transformed into a bright collection of rooms with ample public corridors and furnishings that evoke formal yet comfortable qualities.

Local and natural materials are used throughout: Arizona sandstone on the corridor walls, southwest mesquite wood on the Arizona Ballroom and corridor floors and western Douglas fir wood paneling on the ceiling. Custom carpets were designed featuring the colors of the desert southwest and even included ASU's sunburst logo in the ballrooms.

Historically significant spaces such as the Arizona Ballroom and the Alumni Lounge were renovated to evoke their special qualities while bringing the facility up to the highest technical, audiovisual and acoustic standards. Consistent with ASU’s and Studio Ma's commitment to sustainability, the project anticipates a LEED Silver rating.

Notable achievements include reducing energy costs for lighting by 70 percent ("EcoSysyem" lighting utilizes environmental sensors to automatically dim lighting), recycling 50 percent of the project's construction waste, 20 percent of the materials used are recycled content, and 30 percent of all materials are either regionally extracted or manufactured.

Two related projects at the Memorial Union visitors will see that are funded separately from money approved by ABOR for renovation after the fire include a new café replacing the Maricopa Café on the second floor and redesign of the North Plaza.

Engrained café is a sustainable dining and living-learning restaurant committed to locally grown food and environmentally friendly practices. It is funded with capital dollars provided by ASU’s partner, ARAMARK, and opens to the public Aug. 28.

The MU Plaza Project is being funded by University Student Initiatives. Phase I, which included the redesign of the plaza north of the Memorial Union, was successfully completed. The phase included removing and pouring new concrete throughout the North Plaza, the addition of a performance stage and new landscaping.

Phase II, which includes the installation of lighted shade canopies and additional seating, is also on schedule and will be completed by the end of January 2009. Download Full Image

Sharon Keeler