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ABOR approves additional $20 million for Durham building renovation

The renovations will include changes to flooring, ceilings and windows as well as asbestos removal


The ASU Durham Language and Literature building is seen under renovation on campus in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.

The Arizona Board of Regents in February approved a budget increase for the renovation of ASU's G. Homer Durham Language and Literature building, which is the building's first major renovation in 50 years.

The building is located near the intersection of University Drive and College Avenue. It is also home to the School of International Letters and Cultures.

The original budget approved for the approximately 137,000-gross-square-foot project back in January 2018 was $45 million. Now, the budget for the same project has increased to $65 million to include more renovations, such as windows installations and technology upgrades.

As the University builds state-of-the-art facilities across its campuses and gets involved in innovative, technology-oriented commercial projects, faculty and students who take classes in the Durham building say it will bring the site up-to-speed with ASU's increasingly modern landscape.

According to the board’s document, ASU will pay for the project through selling its system revenue bonds. These bonds are dedicated to financing new academic and research facilities, academic and laboratory remodeling and infrastructure changes. When ASU pays back the bond, the sources of revenue pledged to the bondholders will include student tuition and fees and net investment income.

ASU is required to sell one or more series of its system revenue bonds to help finance the project.

The project includes removal of asbestos-containing materials in the building, renovations to the infrastructure of the building, such as flooring, walls and ceilings, and also includes technological updates within the building. All six floors and the basement will be remodeled. 

The building was first built in 1964 and later updated in 1969. No change to the structure of the building has been made since then.

Sky Levin, a junior majoring in Japanese who takes classes in the Durham building for his major, described the current building as “shabby” and not the most effective environment for learning.

“It could use more windows, cleaner windows,” Levin said. “A lot of pigeons tend to roost where the windows are, so they’re very messy, and they distract while the teacher is lecturing.”

Kameron Moore, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering and Spanish linguistics, said while he didn't feel like the current building did not harm his education experience, the construction currently going on does.

"There's a bunch of noise and construction going on during the renovation," Moore said. "We hear people banging on walls and moving things around all the time."

But Moore said, despite the distraction caused by the construction, the renovation will ultimately benefit the building.

"I don't think the decision to remodel the building was a mistake," he said. "Remodeling the old building is good to keep our campus modern and relevant."

Nina Berman, a professor and director of the School of International Letters and Cultures, said other problems with plumbing have also hurt the learning environment. 

“There was a toilet on the first floor that students would also use, but it started overflowing, and sewage dripped into Learning Support Services,” Berman said.

Levin said the current state of the building makes the students in the School of International Letters and Cultures feel isolated from the rest of the University. 

"I feel like we’re kind of left out," Levin said. "We’re separate from the rest of the school in some cases."

Berman said that SILC has worked closely with ASU on the project. The school's faculty meets with The College of Liberal Arts and Science on a bi-weekly basis, she said, and then the College frequently meets with other parties involved with the project, such as construction and legal staff.

Originally, the project did not include renovations on the building’s windows — some rooms lack windows altogether, and others are 60 years old, Berman said. But she said that the budget increase, which allows for funding for the windows, is something that she "fought hard for."

"I was completely shocked when I heard that they were going to remodel the building on the insides … but then leave all those really ancient windows," she said.

Berman said she and other professors and students in her school are optimistic for the remodeled building.

“We’re very excited because this re-conceptualized version of (the building) will bring in more light, we will have more up-to-date classrooms and there will be advising and learning support services will be in one area,” she said. “It will have all kinds of more up-to-date technology.”

Reach the reporter at and follow @michelle_zhao23 on Twitter. 

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