Northern Arizona University began its Fine Arts Ceramics program in the 1960s. As it expanded, students and faculty began requesting more workspace. Many complained about overcrowding in the workrooms and a shortage of potters' wheels.
In the early 1980s, the program moved from the Fine Arts Building to the Outback Studio, a series of cottages and kilns located on the east side of Lumberjack Stadium. In 1990, the university completed the ceramic art building on the southeast edge of campus, along Lone Tree Road. Kilns have been added over the years. Professor Don Bendel worked with master Japanese potter Yukio Yamamoto to complete a Tozan kiln on November 17, 1985. NAU then added the traditional Japanese Tea House and garden in 2002.