It's been a year filled with outreach projects across southern Arizona and Mexico for members of the College of Architecture.
In the spring, upper-level students finished a rammed-earth building for the Campus Recreation department. Students began designing the Rincon Vista Facility three years ago with the help of faculty, an outside architect and a general contractor.
During construction, students moved 190 tons of dirt by using five-gallon buckets. This dirt now forms walls of the facility at north Plumer Avenue and east Winsett Street, said Susan Moody, the college's assistant dean.
Currently, another outreach project has students helping the city of Safford with ideas for revitalizing downtown and making it more pedestrian friendly. And one class is helping the Balboa Heights Neighborhood Association to design and build a community center.
In addition, Southwest Gas awarded the college a $100,000 grant this fall that will fund research assistantships during next three years. Students will compete for the research assistantships by submitting energy-saving projects. In the fourth year, Pulte Homes will build the top project.
Across the Mexican border, UA professors have been traveling to architecture colleges and holding workshops on energy conservation, Moody said.
At home, the College of Architecture underwent an intensive evaluation of its curriculum to ensure it's meeting the collegiate and professional needs. As a result of the study, Moody said the school will include laboratories with all technology courses.
''Now all our students will have hands-on experience with the architectural technologies,'' she said.
But Moody added that more labs will put a tighter squeeze on the college's space. Right now, administrators are looking for ways to carve out more design studios and laboratories for student projects. The National Architectural Accrediting Board underlined these needs during a review of the college last year, she said.
The college also has welcomed some new members this year. They include Ralph Hammann, a Fulbright scholar who joined the UA an associate professor of Environmental Technologies and Studio; Chris Taylor, an assistant professor of Foundation Drawing and Studio; and Christopher Trumble, an assistant professor of Structures and Studio.
In the administration, Professor Charles Albanese became the college's interim associate dean and Mario Schjetnan, whose practice is based in Mexico City, took over as director of School of Landscape Architecture.
Faculty leaving the college included Professor Robert Nevins, who retired in the spring but has returned part-time as an emeritus professor teaching design. Associate Professor Abigail Van Slyck resigned after accepting a faculty appointment at another university.