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New Auraria Project: CU Denver Academic Building One

New development on Downtown Denver’s Auraria campus continues with the groundbreaking this week of a new University of Colorado Denver facility, currently referred to as CU Denver Academic Building One. A permanent name will eventually be given to the $60 million building in time for its completion in August 2014.

This is the fifth new building constructed on the Auraria campus within the past few years. Despite the recent recession and decreasing funding for higher education from the state, the Auraria Higher Education Center and its three institutions: the University of Colorado Denver, the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the Community College of Denver, have managed to find ways to partner with the private sector and/or otherwise secure funding for new facilities outside of the state’s general fund. The recent Auraria building boom has been critical in helping the campus and its institutions struggle to keep up with expanding student enrollments. Even more buildings for the campus are planned for the future.

The new CU Denver Academic Building One will include 146,000 gross square feet of space designated for student affairs, financial services, admissions, and the registrar’s office, and some new classrooms for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Once the new building is complete, space currently used for those functions in other buildings will be remodeled to accommodate new classrooms and other academic uses.

Here’s a GoogleEarth image (left) showing the building’s key location at the corner of Speer and Larimer, and a drawing (right) of the project’s site plan, courtesy of CU Denver:

 

The following images, courtesy of project architect Anderson Mason Dale, show various perspectives of the new building:

 

 

 

 

For more information on the project, including videos about the building and the groundbreaking ceremony, click here to go to the CU Denver Communications website.

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12 Comments

  1. Larry says:

    That appears to be one of the nicest additions to the campus in quite a while.

  2. Ted says:

    I’m really excited that they decided to go ahead an extend the streetwall along Speer rather than previous proposals I had seen to either add a wing to the existing building across Larimer or renovate and expand their building across Speer by Larimer Square. I still hope that the city will go through with closing down Speer’s median between Arapahoe and Market someday, though it may be a tough political sell to rebuild two bridges over Cherry Creek if the existing ones are in decent shape. I like the idea of a land swap though with CU Denver exchanging the lot they own in the median of Speer for a larger triangle parcel between Arapahoe and Lawrence as shown in a previous campus master plan document. It would help give CU Denver a really strong presence on both sides of the street for a few blocks, not to mention create a much larger and more cohesive Bell Park, which is psychologically much better to walk through than an oversize median.

    • Eric says:

      What happens to the Cherry Creek & it’s associated path if the median is closed in that area? This closure would really affect the median all the way south to Champa due to the land needed to get (I’m guessing) southbound Speer back to it’s current alignment. AND, if (again I’m guessing) southbound Speer is moved over next to northbound the streetwall you mentioned has no basis because the street is gone. I say we leave Speer alone. There has to be less disruptive ways of making use of one small triangular lawn and a small parking lot.

      • Ken Schroeppel says:

        I believe the plan is no longer to move Speer, but to put a building within the current wide median on both sides of Larimer.

        • Ted says:

          I feel this is unfortunate, but oh well… I suppose it is only one small battle. It just seems like a better utilization of space to reallocate that giant median to Bell Park creating a larger park. The actual distance between Auraria and Larimer Square remains the same, it just becomes more park and less street crossing. Building in the median is OK, but I feel it would make that whole area more visually and spacially chaotic when what it really needs is to be simplified. Plus it doesn’t address the grassy median across Larimer that will never become a building site.

          The plan that was shown on old campus planning maps showed North/Westbound Speer deviating from its current course beginning at Arapahoe (hence rebuilding both the Speer and Lawrence street bridges over the creek). Basically it closes the median only where the creek isn’t in between and leaves the rest alone. As a result, that awkward triangle parcel between Speer, 13th, Arapahoe and Lawrence would be enlarged to be big enough to put a building on and could be swapped with CU for the parcel they own in the median.

        • Ted says:

          I guess I misread Ken’s comment… development in the median on BOTH sides of Larimer. That is an interesting new development. I’ll have to think how I feel about it, though I do still feel that building in the median may make the whole area too busy and make Bell Park feel like somewhat of a leftover piece of land. It just seems like it would feel better to “frame in” the whole space between Larimer Square and Auraria more thoughtfully rather than sticking buildings in random available building locations.

  3. Bryan says:

    This is a nice building, but what a failure to preserve surface parking….it might be well designed and small, and screened…but it’s still parking lots in the middle of the city. While this sounds an extreme criticism….but there is a massive parking deck 3 blocks away, and two surface lots across the street. A good start though.

    • Ken Schroeppel says:

      I agree, Bryan. However, it looks to me from that site plan that a future building on the parking lot would fit just fine.

      • Jim Nash says:

        Ken, this new UC Academic Building is such a rich addition to what began as the CU Denver Center at the old “Tramway Tech” building where I attended university classes on 14th street nearly 50 years ago! What an amazing transformation for our city! A few years later, I took journalism courses in the very first buildings of Metro State College, spread along both sides of Colfax. Now, the Auraria Campus forms the entire West side of Downtown, along with Union Station, Arapahoe Square, Uptown, Capital Hill, Civic Center and the Golden Triangle ringing the city center — each neighborhood a distinct element of the Mile High City! The faces and voices of the students and teachers at Auraria promise a robust future for Denver.

    • John says:

      I am no fan of surface parking lots either, however, one of the major points of the design is to have a lower profile towards the west of the lot to preserve the view plane of the iconic Tivoli tower towards Market Street and downtown. It is successful in some of the renderings I have seen and I hope it turns out to be true to those images.

  4. Haggai Vardi says:

    Right across from it was supposed to be Geller’s Bell Tower… the market is looking good lately, any chance that Buzz will bring it back? We are all waiting for that!

  5. Richard says:

    The Auraria master plan shows the athletic fields eventually filled in once they are relocated south of campus. Once that happens the Blake St. view plane will be preserved as a pedestrian axis, and if they expand this building in the future that surface lot would go away with the addition built there at an angle creating a U-shaped building. It will be interesting to watch that whole area create more density over the next several years.