Photo of Cadence
Photo of Cadence
Photo of Cadence
Photo of Cadence
Photo of Cadence
Photo of Cadence


Luxurious Student Housing in the Heart of Tucson

Located in the heart of downtown Tucson, acting as a “public gateway” into the city, The Cadence offers students from the nearby University of Arizona an opportunity to experience both college life and urban living at its best. Elevating the college experience, the project provides a new kind of luxury lifestyle for students with an enviable amenity package that includes a pool area with an outdoor movie projector, video game room, golf simulator, tanning beds, and multiple fire pits. Our team, including Architecture, Interiors, Urban Design, and Brand, developed a design concept that responded to the project’s unique context and scope. With two distinct buildings flanking one of the main roads into downtown, this mixed-use project changes the character of Tucson, bringing new retail and community to the city.

Tucson, National
  • 196 units, 431 beds
  • 7 stories
  • 354,933 sq. ft.
  • Completed in 2013

Student Housing


Architecture: Murray Jenkins

Interiors: Karen Bowery

Planning: Will Grimm

Brand: Sara Van Dyke

Architecture Story

Inspired by the Rhythm of the City

A parking garage and a dirt lot are where this project began. The location was the ideal place to create a new, mixed-use student housing complex consisting of two separate buildings in the heart of Tucson. Adjacent to thriving music venues, new restaurants, the historic Hotel Congress, and many transit options, the design and naming concept behind the building, “The Cadence,” reflects the rhythm and vibe of this emerging district. The design of The Cadence hinges on the concepts of being gritty and polished, rustic and refined. The grit comes into play with the character of the building and the raw materials used. The polished interior and higher-end finishes gives it a refined look and feel. Because of its location on a prominent corner in the city, the building acts as a “public gateway”. The first thing visitors see is a “Welcome to Tucson” sign in front of a tower that’s set back from the street. A tall vertical structure on the other side draws the eye to downtown Tucson. Working closely with the city, crosswalks were added to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and safer for students. A retail plaza space also helps slow down traffic. The two buildings each have unique details, but share a common design language. The Greyhound building is more active with a pool and a more dynamic social atmosphere. Units range from 3-5 bedrooms and are for students who want roommates and the chance to work and relax together. The Railyard building caters to upper-class and graduate students, boasting views of the campus and a rooftop fire pit to relax and unwind. Primarily featuring studios and one-bedroom apartments, it affords a quieter, more mellow vibe. With its three stories built on top of an existing parking garage, and due to the proximity to an active freight train line, extensive sound dampening was necessary to reduce the auditory impact. The Cadence is all about bringing students together. Functioning as the heart of the project, the Living room centers around a double-sided fireplace. Large garage doors open out to a courtyard in the center of the Greyhound building, offering a place for students from both buildings to gather, swim, barbecue, watch movies on a big screen, and create a community. Extra steps were taken to provide a safe and secure home for the students. The main door faces the plaza and has a 24/7 concierge to act as a buffer from the street and pedestrian traffic. Points of entry are limited and keyed with fobs for students, while there is one public entry with a security desk for visitors to check in.


Interior Story

A Study in Contrasts

The objective for this project was to create a place that supports dynamic urban living for students. The client wanted to offer the pleasures and benefits that come with living downtown, heightening the student housing experience. Upon entering The Cadence—a new kind of student housing—natural materials like petrified wood and polished stone are accented by full-height wall graphics, bright pops of color, and modern lighting. A reclaimed wood canopy runs from the exterior into the interior space and appears again throughout the project in a hide-and-seek fashion. The sleek media room is accessed through a sliding large-scale barn door, and once inside, the focal point is a custom fabricated table of hemlock wood and steel, made by local artists. The Great Room is a modern lounge where students can get together, study, or just simply relax. A brightly colored and lit activity room offers a variety of games for students to play and provides an opportunity to mingle, as do amenity spaces such as a pool area with movie projector, video game room, golf simulator, tanning beds, and multiple fire pits. To balance the presence of dark nighttime colors like black and chocolate in the carpets and lighting fixtures, bright colors—citrus green, red, turquoise—flow throughout the main spaces, are reflected in the corridors, and also appear in the high-gloss laminate backsplashes inside the units. The fireplaces of rusted Corten steel are placed next to smooth white stucco. Natural wood contrasts with steel and glass. Placed against the building’s neutral palette, bursts of color highlight the public spaces. Juxtaposing these elements creates a rhythm and flow that echoes the vitality of the location. Elevating the college experience, the project provides an urban style of living for students.


Planning Story

Celebrating the Urban Rhythm

With the city lacking downtown student housing, we found an opportunity to create a genuine home for University of Arizona students—the first-ever that helps them experience the best parts of college life and urban living. The Cadence celebrates the “urban rhythm” in both design and attitude, and introduces a truly mixed-use, urban project into a city in transition at a key location. Creating a visual gateway into Tucson, this project bookends the main vehicular access point into downtown. The new streetcar line wraps around the gateway corner of the site and runs between the two buildings coming out of downtown proper and heading north towards the University of Arizona campus. New crosswalks and traffic control were negotiated with the city, keeping both students and the general public safer. Ankrom Moisan developed two parcels, one next to a busy rail line, and the other uniquely shaped. Building on top of an existing parking garage brought student housing to an underused corner of Tucson, allowing the project to reach the maximum unit count and density. The Cadence created a location that is more vibrant, dynamic, and livable for both students and residents of Tucson.


Brand Story

Living Local

As a new, academic housing location in the center of Tucson, our brand design stays true to the local spirit and appeals to the target market of students seeking a high-end, urban living experience. We developed a full identity for the project, including the name, logo, website art direction, marketing materials, exterior signage, and environmental graphics for both the leasing office and the buildings. The result is a cohesive and consistent look and feel for the project and brand that is authentic to Tucson. Detailed profiles of the target demographic informed the design process by clearly defining who the team was designing for. Next, an integrated design team, including architecture, interiors, urban design, and branding, worked collaboratively to develop the design concept for The Cadence, which responds to both the project’s unique context and the needs of the students. Adjacent to thriving music venues, new restaurants, the historic Hotel Congress, and many transit options, the branding story for The Cadence entices students to experience the rhythm and lifestyle of this vibrant emerging district.