University of Arizona alumni Guy Weinzapfel ’65, Bill Brown ’62 and Fred Pace ’62 learned to plan, design and construct buildings in an unlikely place.
In 1958, the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture’s design studios were located in a former Safeway grocery store on Park Avenue, a block southwest of the college’s current location.
Architecture students worked on their design projects in the repurposed building. Partitions separated the second-year design students from the upperclassmen, but the close quarters and collaborative nature of the program often brought the students together.
“The space was so small, you got to know everybody,” Weinzapfel says. “If you could draw, an upperclassman would approach you for help with drawing leaves for a tree or shadows for a facade.”
As it was at the beginning, the architecture program continues to be a challenging and rigorous program, requiring a great deal of time and commitment from every student.
“We all spent a minimum of 20 hours a week of class time in that building, and most kept working on their projects until it closed at midnight,” says Weinzapfel. “All of us grew intimately familiar with the building.”
Pace remembers hiding in the bathroom with classmates as the building closed so they could continue working. They would also put paper over the windows so no one could tell they were in the building after hours.
“The program was hard work, but we made it fun,” Pace says.
Over time, they called themselves the Safeway Group — a name that would stick decades after the students had graduated and the college had built its new building in 1965 to replace the Safeway studio.
Brown remembers connecting with one of his best friends during his 20th class reunion.
“We just picked back up where we left off, and we started taking trips together once every six months,” he says.
Even as the group grew older and moved around the country, they stayed connected via email. Weinzapfel attributes their tight-knit Safeway Group community to their shared experiences.
“All of us feel a kinship, not just for one another, but for the college,” Weinzapfel says.
In honor of the alumni from the founding years of the college, Weinzapfel, Brown, Pace and other Safeway Group graduates established a scholarship endowment
This year, the Safeway Studios Students’ Scholarship in Architecture Endowment reached its fundraising goal of $250,000. This milestone means a tuition scholarship can be awarded to a student in financial need entering the capstone year of their architecture program. The scholarship can eliminate nearly a quarter of a student’s federal loan debt, which can be roughly $40,000. It may also avoid the need for an additional $15,000 in private loans.
“I feel so proud of what we were able to accomplish,” Weinzapfel says. “I hope our efforts serve as an example for future alumni to follow so that other students
The first recipient of the scholarship is Ben Stewart, who will spend his final year at the college focusing on his capstone project.
“Given the relative brevity of my education compared to the length of my career as an architect, it’s critical to make the most of my time at CAPLA. The Safeway Studios Students’ Scholarship support allows me to do just that by not having to work this year,” he says.