Old Main Renovation

Old Main Renovation

2015 | National Award — Excellence | National Award — Merit | Rehabilitation / Renovation / Restoration

Challenge Design-Build Project Delivery Addressed

The design-build renovation of Old Main maximized cost-effective rehabilitation balanced with preservation of historical integrity and new programmatic functions on a fast-tracked schedule. Due to the project’s evolving nature, the owner’s original budget was established without a defined program. The design-build team’s first task was to allocate the budget through a cost model respective of historic renovations and new improvements. The cost model was used to manage the design through weekly meetings that developed design inclusions within an established budget. A prioritized “wish list” was created that guided the team’s incorporation of additional project scope as unforeseeable conditions became defined. This interactive “design to budget” process ultimately allowed incorporation of site hardscape and landscape improvements that were originally thought unachievable within the original budget.


Old Main was the first building on The University of Arizona campus, opening in 1891. It is also the second oldest operational building in the state. Over its preceding 123-year history, Old Main has gone through numerous remodeling projects that significantly altered its interior, but little had been done to the building’s exterior. The project’s scope of work included rehabilitating deteriorated building elements to extend the building’s life, and restoring the second-floor interior to its original character, accommodating new functional uses. This fusion of good preservation practice and adaptive reuse required a delicate balance between budget management and the needs of a sophisticated user group as Old Main was transformed to the new offices of the university president and her staff.

Design-Build Team

Client/Owner: The University of Arizona
Design-Builder: Sundt Construction, Inc.
General Contractor: Sundt Construction, Inc.
Architect: Poster Frost Mirto, Inc.
Engineers Martin, White & Griffis Structural Engineers Inc., AEI Affiliated Engineers
Specialty Contractors: Sun Mechanical Contracting, Sturgeon Electric
Specialty Consultants: Wheat Design Group, Patrick B. Quigley & Associates, Inc.
Duration of Construction: 16.5 months
Project Cost: $9,694,153