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Thunderbird School opens headquarters on ASU Downtown Phoenix campus

The $67 million building is now open to Thunderbird students and will have a grand opening event from April 4 to 10

Thunderbird School Building

The Thunderbird School of Global Management headquarters on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus is pictured Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.

After over a year of construction, the Thunderbird School of Global Management opened its doors for its new downtown Phoenix branch, now serving as the main headquarters for the school's other 13 centers around the world.

The $67 million building is located on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus and totals 111,000 square feet. The building has five floors, four 60-seat classrooms, five 40-seat classrooms, seven group study rooms and 11 conference rooms.

Senior Vice President and University Planner Rick Naimark has been deeply involved in Thunderbird Global Headquarters' development and decision to move the school to downtown Phoenix.

"ASU looked at both the size of the community and also the financial outlook for the school, which we sort of made the determination that it made a lot of sense for the school to be downtown because downtowns are where global things tend to happen in cities," Naimark said.

The Thunderbird Global Headquarters also houses a pub on the fifth floor. Tomas Bilbao, executive director of branding and communications, said students, Thunderbird alumni and the community, will have access to the pub and its menu.

"The pub is going to have an international menu so that when you come to Thunderbird and spend time at the pub, you're also getting that global feeling," Bilbao said.

According to Bilbao, the building is a reflection of its status as a school of global management and as a part of the number one school in innovation.

"Thunderbird is where we bring together global and digital," Bilbao said. "Everything in the building that you'll see is a reflection of that."

On the first floor is the global forum. The circular room features a video wall quipped with microphones in the walls and a camera to allow the global headquarters to host events with all its centers.

As a global school with 50% of its students coming from different countries, Thunderbird requires students to learn another language. The Innovation Lab in the building uses VR and artificial intelligence to help teach languages.

Mike Grasso, director of digital initiatives, audiovisual and media, said the school is looking for ways to blend in-person classes with online ones to help students have a better learning experience.

"ASU (will be able to) offer new modalities of learning that immerse the student in the learning experience," Grasso said. "Based on everything that we all learned in the last year and a half, we know that there's ways that we can improve that experience."

Thunderbird will have its grand opening and 75th-anniversary reunion from April 4 to 10.

Correction: This story was updated on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. to correct the date of the building's grand opening and provide the new number of centers Thunderbird has globally. 

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Caera Learmonth

Caera Learmonth is a full-time reporter for the Community and Culture desk. She was previously the Executive Editor of her high school newspaper and has taken journalism programs at the School of the New York Times and University of Southern California. 

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