University of Arizona Steward Observatory Renovations

Ten buildings on the University of Arizona’s campus needed a significant overhaul after years of deferred maintenance due to budget constraints, including the Steward Observatory.

The university had previously worked our team on past campus projects, and it tapped us to complete necessary work on the observatory, which was dedicated in 1923.

With the volume and cost of repairs needed, the university was forced to make the economic decision between completely gutting or tearing down a building, or finishing the upkeep needed to renovate the building into a usable space. The observatory includes offices, laboratories and classrooms for the university’s acclaimed doctoral program in astronomy and astrophysics. Much of the mechanical and electrical work required for the vital building renovations is located behind walls. Unfortunately, this makes determining the true condition of the hidden building features difficult.

Innovative 3D point cloud scanning technology was implemented before the design stage, allowing the team to determine current building elements and accurately plan for construction. Additionally, the 3D point cloud scanning data directly informed potential additional project costs throughout the construction phase, which provided accurate estimates for the client.


University of Arizona Steward Observatory


Tucson, Arizona





Higher Education

Higher Education Facilities


Commercial, Retail & Institutional


square-foot remodeled laboratory facility


design-build project budget


month project turnaround from kickoff to construction completion

The mechanical renovations included replacing much of the building’s ductwork and piping, and many of the air handlers and terminal units. Some of the large, critical architectural improvements included power-washing and sealing the exterior walls and window systems. Comprehensive roof re-sloping and replacement, and redesign of many of the skylights and sloped curtain wall systems was also needed to address significant past water infiltration. Crucial electrical power service entrance equipment within the observatory were also replaced.

Because the university needed the building to remain operational during repairs, precise schedule coordination was necessary. Crews completed work around a typical work week schedule — with much of the project finished at nights and on weekends to accommodate building occupants.