The design of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication revitalizes the school, students, and the capitol of Arizona
By Nicole Gimpl
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is relatively new to the Downtown Phoenix area. The Cronkite building opened in 2008, directing students away from the Arizona State University Tempe campus at Stauffer Hall–built in 1973.
The Stauffer building is named after former owner and publisher of The Arizona Republic and Phoenix Gazette newspapers. The building now focuses on classes in combating terrorism and promoting national security.
Built by Steven Ehrlich Architects of Culver City, California, whose designs are featured in the University of California Irvine’s Contemporary Arts building, John M. Roll United States Courthouse, and the East Los Angeles College Student Center and Bookstore are contemporary designs that reflect the area in which the building is located.
According to Ehrlich Architects, “[the composition of the building] is kinetic and dynamic – symbolic of journalism and the media’s role in our open society.”
Built out of glass, metal, and masonry, natural light from all angles illuminates the building – an attribute that photographers love. Included in the designs are “shaded arcades under building’s perimeter to foster outdoor seating ‘café life,’” Ehrlich Architects stated.
Cronkite is very different from Stauffer Hall. The light and airiness is nonexistent at the Tempe building, as most offices are in the basement.
“Before the Cronkite building was built, when I first started with the school, I worked at Stauffer Hall and my office was deep in the basement,” said Cronkite faculty associate Dave Cornelius.
The open style of the building symbolizes the reflective nature of journalism. A journalist must be transparent, open and honest to their environment.
“A journalist must always be accountable, living in a ‘Glass News Room,’” Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas said.
The Cronkite building has revived the Downtown Phoenix area, bringing in traffic from the light rail and reinvigorating businesses near campus.
From its humble beginnings in Stauffer Hall, Cronkite has risen from the basement and straight to the skyline of Downtown Phoenix.