Feature

Campus Construction
A Look at Mines' Evolving Footprint



Bring your hard hat if you come to campus anytime soon - there is some major construction going on.

Counting the two projects under way and two that will shortly begin, Mines is adding about a quarter-million square feet (equivalent to five football fields) of new building space to campus over the next two years, at a cost of $100 million.

About two-thirds of this expenditure supports academic buildings, with the rest going toward residential and student life projects.

"We had a window of opportunity to address some important long-term priorities for campus," says Kirsten Volpi, senior vice president for finance and administration, referring to the combination of favorable interest rates and generous philanthropic support that has prompted the surge in construction activity.

Construction Projects include: 
Brown Hall addition: $33 million, 78,000 square feet to be added on the southwest side 
Marquez Hall
: $25 million, 75,000-square-foot new building to house the Department of Petroleum Engineering
New residence hall: $28 million, 291-bed freshman dormitory
Student Health Center: $2.8 million, 9,000-square-foot facility to house a range of health-related student support services

These projects support several long-range goals articulated in the university's strategic plan, including accommodating growth in undergraduate enrollment and transforming Mines into a more residential campus.

The Brown Hall addition has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade. It actually received approval for state funding in the early 2000s and was wending its way through the state legislature's appropriations process when the economic downturn hit, undermining revenues and putting the state in a financial bind from which it has yet to fully recover. As was the case with numerous state capital projects, funding had to be rescinded, putting the project on hold.

It would probably still be mothballed if not for students, who, in 2007, voted to direct the bulk of their capital-construction fees toward the Brown Hall expansion. Those fees now back more than $25 million in bonds, or roughly 80 percent of the project cost.

"The Brown Hall addition is sorely needed," says Volpi. "Engineering is now our largest and fastest-growing division, but the building was built for a much smaller number of students and faculty."

The architectural firm of Anderson Mason Dale designed the addition with input from a campus committee of students, faculty and administrators. Their blueprint calls for two new auditorium-style classrooms, a generous increase in lab space, and offices for faculty and graduate students.

"One of the most attractive features for students," adds campus architect Chris Cocallas, "will be an open gallery on the west side of the first floor, facing the recreation center. It will run the length of the building and include a coffee shop, small study rooms, and informal areas to gather and relax."

Private donations are covering the cost of Marquez Hall, named after Tim Marquez ‘80 and his wife, Bernadette, whose $10 million matching grant in 2005 kick-started fundraising for the project. It will be built on the southwest corner of Arapahoe and 16th Street, directly south of the Green Center, on the site of the CSM Annex, where the alumni association, foundation and continuing education offices have been housed. The existing structure was vacated in July, demolition will commence in early fall, and construction will begin in early 2011. Marquez Hall will include some intriguing technologies, including "smart" classrooms, 3-D and 4-D visualization labs, and one of the nation's most sophisticated drilling simulators.

"It's considered one of the first phases of the Earth Energy Institute," says Cocallas, referring to the suite of energy research-related facilities the school is developing. "Marquez Hall will serve as a gateway to that part of campus."

If all goes as planned, when Marquez Hall opens its doors in late summer 2012, the new residence hall will be welcoming its second wave of incoming freshmen. Located directly south of Brown Hall, on the same block as the President's Residence, the new facility reflects some of the changing needs of students. "There will be quite a bit of common space," says Cocallas. "The main level will have a large living room with a fireplace. There will be two courtyards, one of which will be equipped with a tent structure so the space can be used for events. The other courtyard will be a little more informal. And there's a room for bike storage and ski tuning."

"We're recognizing that not only have our sheer numbers grown, it's a different type of student body," adds Dan Fox, vice president of student life. "We have more out-of-state students and are catering to many different ethnicities. We also have more women than ever before. That changes what we'll do in our food service, how the rooms are designed, whether or not we do mixed housing - it affects everything."

Cocallas and the project team solicited extensive student input for the design. A full-scale mockup of a dorm room was built, and students were invited to walk through and provide feedback, which was then used to modify plans. When students pointed out the convenience of having an electrical outlet at desktop-level for laptops and other electronics, for example, plans were adjusted accordingly.

The 291-bed dorm will enable the school to house an entire freshman class close to the heart of campus, and it's the first major step toward creating a truly residential campus. "When the number of students living on campus reaches critical mass, we can build a much more comprehensive student life program," says Fox, who points out that, at present, most freshmen are apartment hunting barely six months after arriving at Mines.

The new Student Health Center, to be located on the northwest corner of Elm and 18th Street, will address the needs of an expanded resident population on campus.

The current facility, a renovated single-family home, was designed to accommodate a much smaller student body. The new center will offer traditional medical services, as well as counseling and dentistry.

Along with those detailed above, several additional building projects are under way or in the pipeline. Renovations to the Weaver Towers residence halls are scheduled for 2011-12. Campus parking capacity will grow by more than 250 spaces, once lots are completed on the former sites of the Hall of Justice and the Ford dealership on the south side of 19th Street. In addition to the extensive improvements that have already taken place to the athletics fields south of Clear Creek, several generous donations are paying for artificial turf to be installed on the football field. In recognition of 1942 alumnus Harry Campbell's many years of strong support for the football program, the new gridiron is being named Campbell Field.

A new Welcome Center is also in the works: It will house the admissions office, as well as the CSM Alumni Association and the CSM Foundation, both in temporary locations so the Marquez Hall project can proceed.* Located on the northwest corner of 19th Street and Illinois, the Welcome Center will serve as a gateway to campus and a first port of call for returning alumni, prospective students and other visitors. While conceptual aspects of the $7.6 million project have been discussed, its timing will be contingent upon the school securing donor support.

The various projects outlined above, most of which will be completed by the end of 2012, are all part of a longer-range Campus Master Plan that is currently undergoing review. Aligned with the school's strategic plan, the master plan includes a broader view for the development of campus over the next 10 to 20 years. It is an inspiring vision, and one Mines magazine intends to communicate once details are complete.

* See The Network for details on the new location of the CSM Alumni Association, the CSM Foundation and the Office of Special Programs and Continuing Education.
 

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