New center helps ASU make its mark in Washington, D.C.

The Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center will house various University programs

This week marks the debut of ASU’s new center in Washington, D.C

The Ambassador Barbara Barrett & Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Washington Center, a 32,000-square-foot, eight-story center, is located in a historic building just two blocks from the White House. 

It will be the new home to various ASU programs such as the Cronkite News Washington Bureau, the McCain Institute for International Leadership, as well as other think tanks and research facilities.

The center first opened its doors in February, but it will be celebrating its inaugural birthday with a series of events running from March 12 to March 20.

The center is partially funded by a $35 million Tempe-sponsored bond, according to Debbie Williams, vice president of communications for ASU's enterprise partners.

During a meeting with The State Press on March 2, ASU President Michael Crow said extensive work and planning went into the execution of the building.

"They took a 100-year-old building, gutted it down to the outside brick walls and completely redid the inside," he said. "We’ve raised money for this, we did some financial maneuvers to make this work."

Katie Paquet, vice president of media relations and strategic communications at ASU, said a push to facilitate more collaboration between various University sectors in D.C. served as the impetus for the creation of the new center.

“We really wanted to find a place where we could bring all of our D.C. programs together in one building, under one roof,” she said. “We wanted to be sure that our folks who are working in D.C. could actually work together in the same building and tap into each other’s knowledge space.”

She said the center's launch opens new doors for the University.

“This new space will allow us to expand our engagement with the thinkers and the doers who are really focused on transforming ideas into action,” Paquet said. “Our presence in Washington, D.C. is really part of our overall institutional effort to create and share knowledge that has a potential to change the world.” 

Kyley Schultz, a junior studying journalism and mass communication, who is currently working at the Cronkite News Washington Bureau, said working in the renovated center adds to the experience of reporting in the city.

“It definitely feels like a real, professional newsroom, and its location is probably the number one reason we love it here,” she said. “It’s just easy access to everywhere.”

Schultz said the initiative is an excellent example of the type of opportunities ASU provides for members of its community.

“What I love about ASU is that they care a lot about resources,” she said. “This is another example of ASU taking charge and trusting the potential of their students and faculty and giving them physical resources to do what they need to do.”

Reach the reporter at Kimberly.Rapanut@asu or follow @kimrapanut on Twitter.

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