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Dome still without a home

Landmark's plans hazy after a year

 by Emma Breysse
 published on Wednesday, April 16, 2008

<b>GOLD DOME DECROWNED:</b> A Core Construction worker expains the system that holds the dome together now that it is no longer a cieling.  The dome was removed February 2007.  /issues/news/704787
Jamie Scharer / THE STATE PRESS
GOLD DOME DECROWNED: A Core Construction worker expains the system that holds the dome together now that it is no longer a cieling. The dome was removed February 2007.
 

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A former Tempe landmark that was displaced last year is still homeless, and plans for its future are up in the air.

University officials looking for a new home for the gold-domed roof of the former Visitor Information Center at the University have begun eyeing the new Vista Del Sol residential community currently under construction.

The University preserved the dome after the building, formerly at Rural Road and Apache Boulevard, was demolished in February 2007, despite the protests of community members and historic preservationists.

The University announced at the time that it had plans to incorporate the dome into the design of the new honors college facility but earlier this year looked to the new luxury residences at Vista del Sol to include it.

Though the dome is still in storage while the University debates plans, Leah Hardesty, an ASU spokeswoman, said the University does still intend to find a use for it.

"ASU is actively looking to find a new home for the former gold dome roof of the Visitor Information Center," Hardesty said.

While plans are still uncertain, Hardesty said one of the most likely options is a public ramada, or semi-enclosed shaded shelter, along a new pedestrian mall.
"This mall is the major connection between the south campus residences and the center of the Tempe campus," Hardesty said.

Other plans were not specified.

The University allocated about $1.3 million to preserve the dome.

The Arizona Preservation Foundation fought against the demolition of the building, a Valley National Bank built in 1962, because the bank lent money to build many of the new homes in Tempe. Many older Tempeans have developed a bond with the building and its specific location, a representative of the group said in 2007.

As of this week, neither the Tempe Historic Preservation Commission, nor the Arizona Preservation Foundation, had been informed of the University's possible plans, said representatives of both groups.

This lack of information has Tempe resident Elizabeth Carter concerned.

Carter was one of many community members who fought to keep the building originally covered from being demolished, and she said the lack of updates from the University makes her nervous.

"You see all this construction going on where they said they were going to use the roof, but I haven't heard anything about it since the building went down," she said. "I'm sure there are some kind of plans, but I don't like that the community doesn't know what they are."

Carter said she remembers the dome from her days as a student at ASU, and she hopes, whatever the University decides, the roof will remain visible to the public.

"It was such a landmark, you really have no idea," she said. "It almost wouldn't count as preservation if they didn't keep it out there for everyone."

Hardesty said that in the options being considered residents like Carter will get their wish.

"The dome would be open to the public," Hardesty said.

Tempe resident Chris Evans also said he hopes the University remembers the dome's importance to the community.

"A lot of us didn't like the building being demolished in the first place," he said. "I only hope the University remembers its promise and maintains the dome's status as a community icon."

Reach the reporter at: emma.breysse@asu.edu.



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