Arizona State University leaders joined Willmeng Construction for an event to formally celebrate the completion of the renovation of the iconic ASU Alumni Lawn. The project transformed the space into a more functional, efficient and pedestrian-friendly space while accenting the university’s historic Old Main building.

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This has been a project that we’ve looked forward to for some period of time,” said Dr. Morgan Olsen, Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer at Arizona State University. “We made an investment in this space because we recognize the importance of the Alumni Lawn for the University in terms of the way that we use it. It’s a site of a ton of events, whether it’s homecoming or commencement or other really important moments in the life of the university and our students and faculty.”

The ASU Alumni Lawn project is the first of several phases to transform the open space around Old Main at ASU’s flagship Tempe campus. This project rehabilitated and upgraded 2.7 acres of outdoor space in the heart of campus. The site is located just north of the historic Old Main building; it serves as an entrance to the campus and a gathering space for students and members of the ASU community.

“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,” said Dr. Christine Wilkinson, who is the Senior Vice President and Secretary of the University and the ASU Alumni Association President. “Then over the years this space serves as a backdrop for engagements, weddings, anniversaries – a few plunges in the fountain – and celebrates a student’s journey. This is a space that thousands and thousands of people will experience over the years as they celebrate the memories of their university experience.”

James Murphy, CEO of Willmeng Construction, delivers remarks in front of the Kachina Fountain in the ASU Alumni Lawn. Olsen was on hand to mark the completion of the renovation project for the central focal point of the Tempe campus. Murphy is an alumni and associate faculty member of ASU’s Del E. Webb School of Construction.

The Alumni Lawn also has great importance to Willmeng CEO James Murphy, an alumni and associate faculty member of ASU’s Del E. Webb School of Construction.

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

The new design by Norris Design opens the visibility to Old Main and Kachina Fountain from University Drive while preserving ASU’s history. Other key partners on the project included Wood Patel Civil Engineers, Hawkeye Electric, DTR Landscape Development, M&J Construction and Dynamic Concrete.

The project, including the removal and salvage of existing pavers and the installation of new pavers, resulted in nearly 26,000 SF of pavers. The project also required that the team regrade the existing site and install updated irrigation systems and sidewalks across the Lawn, as well as a drainage system that captures rain runoff and feed it to landscaping that surrounds the lawn. Emphasizing the project’s commitment to functionality and design, additional features included the installation of eight retractable bollards, two benches, a restored sundial, decorative metal screen panels, and a prominent monument sign along University Drive. Finally, the project included the installation of new palm trees, and new infrastructure for vehicular, pedestrian, and bike traffic across the lawn.

The Alumni Lawn has been the site of many events throughout the history of ASU, but without adequate electricity running to the site, it became more difficult to host events that required power. With the installation of a new electrical system at the site, it will be possible to host large gatherings at this site in the future, creating more memories for the ASU community.

“As I think about this place, you know, 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 that 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.”