In collaboration with Pima County, the University of Arizona plans to develop downtown Tucson's Roy Place Building.

The University of Arizona is the latest tenant to make the move into downtown Tucson.

The College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (CALA) now occupies a space in the historic Roy Place Building, on the southwest corner of Stone Avenue and Pennington Street.

Jan Cervelli, dean of CALA, says a presence in the rapidly-evolving urban core of the city will allow students and faculty to make their work relevant to the community.

“It’s really at the center of our mission at the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for students to engage in the community and be part of the revitalization process,” Cervelli says. “Not just to study it from a distance, but to become part of it, to help generate ideas to help the city and the county.”

Cervelli says the Roy Place Building will be the UA downtown home under a five year lease from Pima County, with an option to extend an additional five years.

R. Brooks Jeffrey, director of the Drachman Institute, the research and public service unit of CALA, says UA Downtown will serve as an urban laboratory.

“We work with the expertise that we have and reach out into the community to begin to address some of the needs in the areas of heritage conservation, community and neighborhood planning, design-build, and transit-oriented development and urban design,” says Jeffrey.

Jeffrey points out that the Roy Place Building, built in 1929 as a Montgomery Ward, has a special place in the legacy of downtown Tucson. He says iconic Tucson architect Roy Place designed the building in a Spanish Colonial Revival style.

“In the 1950s, the building changed hands and was modified on the exterior to cater to the modern architectural styles that were popular at that time,” Jeffrey says. Pima County owns the building now, and the façade has been restored to the original design.

An exhibit by CALA students, currently on display at the building, takes a look at downtown Tucson and the role that it plays within the city. Bill Mackey taught the class that produced the exhibit, titled Food Paper Alcohol: A Downtown Exhibit. He says the exhibit is an opportunity for people to learn about downtown Tucson’s relation to the distribution of food, paper and alcohol from a global to a local scale. Mackey says the exhibit also was designed to provide valuable information for urban planners, students, and policy makers.

Cervelli says this is a first step in UA efforts to establish a presence in downtown Tucson, and she hopes the move will lead to other opportunities for students and faculty.

“The students can literally sit here and watch how people interact in urban spaces and with buildings,” she says. “Think how exciting it will be for students to come back five, 10, 20 years from now, and to see their ideas come to life.”

The University of Arizona will celebrate the opening of UA Downtown in the historic Roy Place Building, located at the southest corner of Stone Avenue and Pennington Street in Tucson.

The open house will take place Saturday, Sept. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Roy Place Building. The event will include music, hors d'oeuvres and exhibits. UA faculty, staff and students will be on hand to demonstrate their work and talk about current and upcoming UA Downtown programs, events and activities. The open house coincides with September’s 2nd Saturdays Downtown, Tucson’s monthly arts and entertainment event series.