Amidst the thousands of square feet of laboratory space at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus in East Mesa, one new building will be constructed to house religion classes and services of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the LDS Institute of Religion building was held Sept. 9, with special guests and speakers, ASU President Michael Crow and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church.
Also in attendance were mayors John Lewis of Gilbert and Gail Barney of Queen Creek, as well as Mesa vice mayor Alex Finter. Among the other elected officials attending were Maricopa County supervisors Steve Chucri and Denny Barney, state Reps. Justin Pierce and Douglas Coleman and state Sen. Bob Worsley.
Inclement weather forced the groundbreaking ceremony to be moved from the site on the northwest corner of Innovation Way North and South Sterling into an adjacent building on the campus, where approximately 200 people witnessed the presentations and a groundbreaking ceremony.
Crow spoke of the Polytechnic campus, noting it represented a combination of “ideals and ideas focused on education in a technical sense of mind and body.
“However,” he added, “We don’t focus on the spiritual.”
He added by working with faith-based organizations, such as the LDS Church on this particular project, “We can provide in one environment a complete and total educational experience an individual needs to put them on the right course.”
Crow added that in the 11 years since he began at ASU, he’s come to love many things about the university.
“It’s a fantastic university,” he said. “We are moving forward and making progress on many fronts.”
He counts the addition of the new Institute as a mark of that progress, as the “science, engineering and many natural sciences” offered on the campus will be combined “with everything this institute represents in terms of spiritual development.”
Andersen, representing the LDS Church, thanked ASU and Crow, and encouraged LDS educators, community members and elected officials in attendance to let others know about this new addition to what is offered at ASU.
“Share this with our members and our youth. Let them know that ASU is our friend,” Andersen said.
Referring to the LDS Institute building on ASU’s Tempe campus, Andersen added, “Dr. Crow took leadership to step forward and let us build a large Institute there.”
He said the new building on the Polytechnic campus is another example that, “ASU is very inclusive of us;” and, he added, for LDS students, when compared with Utah schools or other church schools, ”There is every bit as much reason and maybe more to stay and go to ASU.”
The new LDS Institute building will be constructed at what Elder Andersen called, “right at the crossroads of campus.”
Dave J. Gornik, of Emc2 Group Architects Planners, PC, is the lead architect on the project. Scott Lutes, also with Emc2, said the 25,000 square-foot building will include a chapel, three large classrooms, a recreation area and 11 smaller classrooms. Richard Clutter, another of the architects on the project, said the exterior has been designed of brick masonry, with two-tone brick and a flat roof so it will blend in with the other buildings on the campus.
Permits have been approved and the project is currently out for bid. Once construction begins, it is expected to take 11 months to complete.