By Cecily Markland
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Arizona State University president Michael M. Crow were joined by other Church and community leaders on Sept. 9 in a symbolic gold-shovel groundbreaking for a new 24,000-square-foot LDS Institute building on ASU’s Polytechnic campus in the East Valley.
Heavy rain forced the groundbreaking ceremony inside to the adjacent Student Union building, where approximately 200 people gathered to witness the presentations and ceremonial groundbreaking.
Dr. Crow noted that, currently, the Polytechnic campus represented a combination of “ideals and ideas focused on education in a technical sense of mind and body.”
According to the ASU website, the Polytechnic campus offers technical and professional programs—including aviation, business, education, engineering, math, science and technology, complemented by arts, humanities and social sciences curricula—in a hands-on learning environment, characterized by intimate class sizes, an integrated curriculum and accessible faculty.
However, “we don’t focus on the spiritual education or spiritual development of the person,” Dr. Crow said, adding that by working with faith-based organizations, such as the LDS Church on the Institute project, “we can provide in one environment the complete and total educational experience an individual needs to put them on the right course.”
He counted the new Institute as a mark of progress for ASU Polytechnic, as the “science, engineering and many natural sciences” offered on the campus will be combined “with everything this Institute represents in terms of spiritual development.”
Elder Andersen thanked ASU and Dr. Crow and encouraged LDS educators, community members and elected officials in attendance to let others know about the new addition to what is offered at ASU.
“Share this with our members and our youth. Let them know that ASU is our friend,” Elder Andersen said.
Referring to ASU’s Tempe campus, Elder Andersen added, “Dr. Crow took leadership to step forward and let us build a large Institute there.”
The new building on the Polytechnic campus is another example that, “ASU is very inclusive of us,” Elder Andersen said. He said for LDS students in Arizona, when compared to Utah schools or other Church schools, “There is every bit as much advantage and maybe more to stay and go to ASU.”
The new Institute building will be constructed on the northwest corner of Innovation Way North and South Sterling Avenue, “right at the crossroads of campus,” Elder Andersen said. The 25,000 square-foot building will include a chapel, a large cultural hall, 14 classrooms and offices. The Institute is within the boundaries of the Gilbert Young Single Adult Stake and will serve students from the Polytechnic campus, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and ASU Preparatory High School, located on the Polytechnic campus.
Dave J. Gornik, of Emc2 Group Architects Planners, PC, was lead architect on the project. Emc2 Group architects Scott Lutes and Richard Clutter, who also worked on the project, said the exterior has been designed of two-tone brick and will have a flat roof, so it will blend in with the other buildings on the campus.
Permits are approved and, the first phase of construction, demolition of some existing structures, is scheduled to begin by year-end. Completion is expected in mid-2015.
Also turning shovels at the groundbreaking were mayors John Lewis of the Town of Gilbert and Gail Barney of Queen Creek and vice mayor, Alex Finter, of Mesa. Also participating were Maricopa County Supervisors Stephen D. Chucri and Denny Barney, Representatives Justin Pierce and Douglas Coleman and Senator Bob Worsley and other East Valley elected officials. Emcee for the event was Roc Arnett, East Valley Church and community leader and founding CEO of East Valley Partnership.