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Following cosmetic changes and discovered health hazards, Durham Hall reopens

The $65 million renovation project houses 11 international centers, classrooms and office space with the objective of advancing global research


Durham Hall on the Tempe Campus on Thursday, April 28, 2022. The building was recently renovated to have a new look, as well as a new elevator system.

The newly renovated Durham Hall reopened Tuesday, a building on the Tempe campus dedicated to advancing global research that will house several international centers, including the School of International Letters and Cultures. 

After three years of planning and preparation, construction for the $65 million project began in January 2019 and had a projected end date of December 2021. 

The grand reopening ceremony, which allowed for tours of the building, included speeches from University President Michael Crow, Dean of Humanities in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Jeffrey Cohen, Director of The School of International Letters and Cultures Nina Berman, and junior Jeremy Parker. 

"This school, within the humanities division of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is central to the University's globalization efforts which are going on on several levels," Crow said at the ceremony. "We're very excited about this facility and all that it represents."

According to Berman, the renovation was necessary not only due to accessibility and cosmetic demand but existing health hazards in the building, such as asbestos and faulty plumbing.

"We came from that other space that was really a health hazard. It was not just aesthetically awful and smelled bad, but it was really a health hazard," Berman said.

Interior upgrades include replacement of the electrical, plumbing, fire suppression and heating and air conditioning systems, as well as the construction of a new elevator. Exterior upgrades include new brick and windows.

The goals for the renovation revolved around modernizing and enhancing the existing space, which was originally built in 1964. 

"We reduced the number of offices, and have more spaces that are shared and available to students," Berman said. "The classrooms are completely updated, and our Learning Support Services Unit is updated. We have all the interdisciplinary centers and internationally themed centers. It's become a new vibrant hub for the Humanities on campus."

The approximately 52,000-square foot building houses 11 international centers, as well as interdisciplinary units, classrooms and office space through its six floors. The international centers that will be housed in Durham Hall include:

Crow said Durham Hall is one of three newly constructed facilities geared toward the University's globalization efforts, which also include the Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health and the Thunderbird School of Global Management. The University hopes the reimagined space will enhance students' education and collaboration during their time in the program. 

"In essence, every single door in this building is like entering a new country. We can go from Greece to Japan in the matter of seconds," said Jeremy Parker, junior French and international letters and cultures major. "So many events happen in this building, allowing our rigorous study of language and culture to transform into enjoyable experiences and lifelong memories."

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Sadie BuggleOpinion Editor

Sadie Buggle is the Editor of the State Press Opinion Desk. This is her third semester working for the State Press after two semesters reporting for the Community and Culture Desk.

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