In the fall of 2013, students at the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) created visions for the future of the Ronstadt Transit Center site under the supervision of School of Architecture studio instructor, Bill Mackey. The ARCH 451 Studio, comprised of fifth year architecture students and sponsored by the Downtown Partnership, focused on the creation of three distinct schemes to help the community visualize a full range of possibilities for the site. The visions investigated the economics, aesthetics, and potential programs for one of the most contentious and important downtown sites. Working out of the UA Downtown studio, students actively engaged with officials at the City of Tucson, members of the Downtown Partnership, local developers, civic leaders, independent property owners, the Bus Riders Union, and architects and planners to provide a base for their design work.
The purpose of sharing the results of the student work is to help inform public dialogue around the possible redevelopment of the Ronstadt Center by the City of Tucson.
The studio decided each project shall meet the following criteria:
· requirements set forth by the FTA circular
· not seriously disrupt existing Suntran circulation routes
· provide 200-300 housing units with a mixed range of sizes and types
· provide space for a minimum of 2 additional bus bays
· provide space for articulated buses.
The studio defined the urban design problem of the Ronstadt Transit Center as a balancing act of three items:
§ Community rhetoric
§ The changing definition of downtown Tucson
§ The existing, and assumed future, mobility systems of downtown Tucson
Presentation of Schemes
The three schemes range in their response to the existing conditions of downtown, the perceived future of downtown development, in scale, scope, and use.
· Vision: Toole Towers
This scheme proposes moving Suntran operations to a vacant parcel to the north of Toole Avenue and creating a large open space flanked by two 300-foot tall residential towers.
o Suntran operations move to site north of Toole Avenue
§ 19 articulated bus bays
o Toole Avenue, between 6th Avenue and Pennington Street is closed to bus traffic only
o 300 foot tall residential tower with retail on the first floor and office space on the second floor located at the “triangle” site
§ 144 residential units (48 studio, 72 2BR, 24 loft)
o 300 foot tall residential tower with retail on the first floor located at Congress and 6th Avenue
§ 96 residential units (48 1BR, 24 2BR, 24 3BR)
§ 5,600 square feet retail
o A large, 17,280 square foot plaza, devoted to “play” is placed between the towers
o Underground parking
· Vision: the HUB
This scheme proposes moving Suntran operations to a regional multi-modal transit center to the 8-Acre site east of Interstate 10, south of Congress, north of Cushing Street. Downtown is no longer just a neighborhood in the sea of metropolitan Tucson, but it is a regional center that is visited by people from Midtown, Oro Valley, Vail and beyond. The geographic center of downtown has the potential to shift westward with the newly constructed Modern Streetcar system.
o Suntran operations move to the 8-Acre site east of Interstate 10, south of Congress, north of Cushing Street
§ 20 articulated bus bays
§ User lounge
o Greyhound operations continue presence on site
§ 9 bus bays
o 5 story Hotel, 136 rooms
o Parking Garage, 600 spaces
o 3 story retail/office building
§ 29,000 square feet retail
§ 90,000 square feet office
§ 15,000 square feet exhibit
o Plaza, 57,000 square feet
o Development of the proposed Green Line, new street section for Granada Avenue, development of commercial space along east side of Granada
§ Vision: Ronstadt Plaza
With Suntran operations moving to the 8-acre site, this scheme proposes creating the existing Ronstadt site into a public meeting place flanked by residential, hotel, and retail uses.
The Strip is a commercial center annex to the Ronstadt Transit Center, which allows transit services to remain at their current location while expanding the number of bus bays from 16 to 18. A public plaza is lofted over where the buses circulate to allow for a central gathering space downtown which does not inhibit the mechanics of the bus center and allows for more retail space. The Strip connects to a hotel and retail building on the North next to the rail tracks.