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The Moeur Building is a building of surprises, some from the past, and some of the future.
Invisible under the smooth façade are the adobe bricks made by students and community members from earth excavated for the basement.
In the lobby is a full-size model of one of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers bedded on the reddish-brown sands of Mars. Overhead is a video screen that scrolls the latest images from Mars orbit as they are received here on Earth. The images come from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.
The corridors are lined with giant colorful Mars images taken by spacecraft from orbit and on the ground.
Regents' Professor Phil Christensen, director of the Mars Space Flight Facility (and designer of the Mini-TES instruments on the rovers and THEMIS), enjoys working in the historic adobe landmark. "It's fantastic. We have the highest-tech stuff in a 1930s adobe. It's fun!"
Another of the building's surprises are several 1930s murals that have been covered by layers of paint. Taliesin student Bruce Richards painted a modern-dance themed mural on the west, north and east walls of the central recreation room, and John Leeper painted a mural on the south wall of the lounge for non-resident women students depicting women in sports and art activities.
Leeper's mural actually was painted on canvas and attached to the wall, and ASU graduate Daniel August Hall, in his 1974 thesis "Federal Patronage of Art in Arizona From 1933 to 1943," notes that "this canvas may have been removed during remodeling and stored. If so, this mural may still be in existence."
Constructed during the Depression as a Works Progress Administration project, the building was, according to Hall, "one of the most important architectural accomplishments of the Depression period in Arizona."
The building, intended to be a women's gymnasium, was designed by Lescher and Mahoney, and the interior decorations (including hand-made pine furniture and hand-woven fabrics for curtains and upholstery) were supervised and executed by workers on the Arizona Art Project of the WPA.
And who was the building's namesake?
Benjamin B. Moeur, a country doctor who was governor of Arizona in the 1930s. Moeur also was, according to the building's dedication plaque, "a statesman, humanitarian and friend of students and faculty."
When you visit the Moeur Building, don't forget to stop and smell the roses in the Moeur Family memorial garden just outside the front doors.
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