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Take a peek at design for Caterpillar's building near downtown Tucson
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Take a peek at design for Caterpillar's building near downtown Tucson

Neighbors on Wednesday night got their first look at the design of the future Caterpillar building that will go up west of downtown.

Architects unveiled the design for three-story, 150,000-square-foot building, which will be have a masonry base and copper or copper-inspired panels on top.

“Understanding the regional context was important to us,” said John Tran, design principal with architect firm SmithGroup JJR. “There’s an architectural language that’s pervasive here … from mission style to mid-century.”

He said the landscaping will blend with the natural trees and cacti in the area.

The building, to be named the Caterpillar Tucson Mining Division, will have an address of 875 W. Cushing St., just west of Interstate 10. It will feature a plaza for shared public and private use at the corner of Cushing Street and Avenida del Convento.

Parking for about 500 cars will be on the south side of the site, part of which will be in a two-story parking garage, with the bottom level underground. Bicycle parking will be in the plaza.

The building’s perimeter will be 48 feet, with one 60-foot-high area set back.

“Caterpillar is excited to take this next step, and we appreciate the strong partnership and support we’ve received from all members of the team,” said Jean Savage, Caterpillar vice president for surface mining and technology. “This will be a site that will make us all proud, fitting well into the community and helping show the world some of what Tucson has to offer.”

The building was designed by SmithGroup JJR and WSM Design. Sundt Construction is the general contractor.

Last year Caterpillar announced it would move its surface mining and technology division to Tucson with more than 600 executive jobs over the next five years.

The division, with Caterpillar Corp. as a guarantor, has entered into a 25-year lease with the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District with a guaranteed interest rate of no more than 3 percent for the first 10 years.

Prep work on the site began earlier this summer with an expected delivery date of March 1, 2019.

Rio Nuevo is spending $43 million on the project. An additional $4 million was provided by the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“Rio Nuevo is honored to be part of the Caterpillar family and will forever be grateful to the company, not only for coming to Tucson, but for selecting this historic site,” said Fletcher McCusker, chairman of the Rio Nuevo board. “SmithGroup JJR + WSM have done an extraordinary job designing a world-class building.”

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by about 15 neighbors.

At the end of the meeting, some residents expressed concern about the copper panels being too shiny. Architects said they would be tarnished.

Other neighbors said it was a nice nod to the copper mining industry. A couple of people thanked the design team and Rio Nuevo for the many meetings that have been held to discuss the project.

Some neighbors asked about solar panels, and the architects said Caterpillar was considering adding them to parking structures, but no final decision has been made.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at

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