ASU Wraps Complete Redesign of Alumni Lawn

By Eric Althoff

TEMPE, Ariz.—A goal of the ASU Alumni Law Project has been realized, thanks to the redesign and unveiling of the space in front of the campus’s Old Main building. General contractor Willmeng Construction worked in conjunction with architecture firm Norris Design on the 2.7-acre revision, which makes the space far more pedestrian-friendly and also opens up sightlines on the campus. The lawn now effectively functions as a revitalized “front door” to Arizona State University, located in the Phoenix suburbs.

The project required installing 26,000 square feet of pavers. Additional work entailed reworking the grounds themselves, upgrading its irrigation, paving sidewalks as well as installing a drainage system to capture rainwater in the desert environment to thereafter redirect it to landscaping needs. Norris Design’s plans also included placing several benches, decorative metal screen panels, eight retractable bollards and new signage along University Drive.

Other renovations entailed a new playground, 13,000-square-foot irrigation pond, restroom facilities and 210,000 square feet of parking spaces. Landscaping work included installing palm trees. And because Alumni Lawn is often utilized for campus events, part of the redesign incorporated an updated power grid on the grounds to power various equipment.

Norris Design and Willmeng Construction worked with project partners including Hawkeye Electric, DTR Landscape Development, Wood Patel Civil Engineers, Dynamite Concrete and M&J Construction.

ASU Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Dr. Morgan Olsen said at a spring ribbon-cutting that the school made the decision to invest in revitalizing the Alumni Lawn given its importance to campus life.

“As I think about this place…it’s sort of sacred in a sense,” Olsen said. “The university is moving so fast, growing so quickly and changing at the forefront of the invention of new knowledge. And yet we still have this place [where] people can come and relax and reflect and celebrate their relationships with each other and with the institution, and sort of create their own history here.”

Willmeng Construction CEO James Murphy, an alumnus and associate faculty member of ASU’s Del E. Webb School of Construction, said that his personal connection to the campus informed his firm’s approach to giving the Alumni Lawn a new lease.

“I know how important this project was to the university and what this space means to myself and all Sun Devils,” Murphy said. “I am extremely proud of our team for the way they executed a challenging project without getting in the way of this dynamic campus.”

“When prospective students are visiting ASU, we always take the tours right by Old Main so people can understand the historical nature of the university and where it started,” Dr. Christine Wilkinson, senior vice president and secretary of the university and ASU Alumni Association president, said at the ribbon-cutting. She added that, as a student embarks on their journey as a Sun Devil, the Alumni Lawn often serves as an important photo backdrop. “This is a space that thousands and thousands of people will experience over the years as they celebrate the memories of their university experience,” she said.

Willmeng Construction has been working in the greater Phoenix Metro Area since 1977, specializing in tenant improvement and ground-up work. Their previous work with ASU includes the CRTVC Dreamscape, a nearly 10,000-square-foot multimedia center.

“We’re very humbled to have the opportunity to build yet another project with ASU and to work on this central focal point of the campus,” said Willmeng’s Murphy.