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Saving Old Main, the UA's Oldest Building
Old Main encapsulates the UA's history, traditions, legacy and success. A major fundraising initiative is now underway to ensure the building's restoration and renovation.
Exactly 122 years after the first classes were held in Old Main, University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart and UA Foundation President James H. Moore Jr. launched a $13.5 million fundraising campaign for the building's restoration and renovation.
"Our commitment to this institution is past, present and future," Hart said during the "Save Old Main" kickoff event held in front of Old Main on Tuesday. The building opened its doors to the first six UA students on Oct. 1, 1891.
The "Save Old Main" fundraising campaign will help fund the renovation project, which is slated to be completed during the summer of 2014, marking the most significant renovation and restoration effort in the history of Old Main, arguably the UA's most iconic building.
Old Main encapsulates the history, legacy and success of the UA, Hart said, and is an important visual reminder of the UA's range of achievements, including: its continued efforts to expand access to higher education; being home to leading scholars in a broad range of fields, including arid land studies and planetary sciences; being chosen by NASA to lead the OSIRIS-REx mission; housing highly regarded museums and art collections; and consistently earning high rankings nationally and internationally.
"'Save Old Main' is serious, and we mean it," Hart said. "We want this building to be here for students for generations and generations to come."
The UA has invested in repairs and renovations at Old Main over the years. In 2008, the building's lower level was renovated.
The current project will address more significant needs, such as a damaged foundation and exterior veranda, general decay, moisture damage and cracked masonry columns. Also, Old Main's ventilation, heating, cooling and fire protection systems need to be updated.
Sundt Construction Inc. is the design-builder for the renovation project. Once it is completed, Old Main will be occupied by senior UA administrators and key student services. But beyond serving as a first point of contact for students, the building will be a space for Wildcats past and present — with meeting space for alumni and other events.
UA alumnus Thomas W. Keating, vice chair of the UA Foundation Board of Trustees, said that Old Main – the building and the surrounding space – touches members of the campus community on an emotional level.
"The plan to repurpose this building and to have more and more interactions with families and students is exciting," said Keating, the namesake of the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building.
"Save Old Main" will preserve the beloved building as a persistent symbol of the University's pride and spirit, Moore said.
"We are excited about what it will do for our campus," he said. "It really is going to be a special thing for all of us. We are going to be celebrating this project from start to finish."