By Courtney Harrell | University Communications
Maybe you’ve been watching CU Denver’s new Student Commons Building springing up next to Speer Boulevard during the last two years. Because it sits at the very edge of campus, I’m guessing it’s already caught your eye. And it’s even cooler than it looks.
I know, I know, it’s a university building–it sounds boring. But, trust me, it’s not. This new building is not just another set of computer labs and lecture halls–it’s an innovative space designed specifically for our benefit—156,000 square feet of awesome just for us. Here are five reasons why you should check it out.
When you walk into the Student Commons Building, the first thing you’ll see is the Lynx Center (think information desk meets Apple’s Genius Bar). Basically, it’s your one-stop shop for answers. Rather than tracking down specific student service departments to answer all your questions, you can come to the Lynx Center (in person, on the phone or online) and chat with someone cross-trained in multiple student service offices. They’re just waiting there to make your life easier.
Then, if they can’t answer your questions, you’ll be directed to the appropriate office for further help. The best part? All those offices are now located steps away from the Lynx Center.
Not yet a CU Denver student? The admissions office is there to help. Need help picking your major? The Academic Success and Advising Center is down the hall. Need help paying for school? The Scholarship Resource Office is right next door. Time to pay tuition? The Bursar’s Office is there to help you, too.
What's Inside? Floor-by-floor Directory:
|Academic Success & Advising Center
|International Admissions Suite
|Scholarship Resource Office
|Disability Resources & Services
|Educational Opportunity Programs
|Learning Resources Center
|TRiO Student Support Services
|Master of Humanities and Master of Social Sciences
|Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
|Financial Aid Office
|Office of the Registrar
Call me a nerd, but this is my favorite part of our new building. In addition to the smaller 30-seat seminar rooms, there are four lecture halls—one 150-seater, two 172-seaters and one 277-seater—and they all feel open and spacious. You’ll be happy to hear that the entrances to the lecture halls are at the sides of the room rather than the front (no more embarrassing bathroom break departures mid-lecture), but the best part is the collaboration space every room offers.
To encourage working together, some of the rooms have fixed swivel chairs so that you can turn around and interact with the people in the row behind you. Others have moveable chairs and tables to allow complete flexibility, and one, the Learning Lab, has monitors ready to connect to computers for shared work. There are even tables designed to fit together into circles for group work, and mobile work panels with a whiteboard on one side and monitor on the other. If you’re lucky, you might end up in the classroom with the wall that folds like an accordion and opens up onto a patio for outdoor class time or events. The classrooms are high-tech, airy and conducive to active learning, which means more freedom for your professors and more hands-on experience for you.
After spending all day in classes and doing homework, it can be easy to forget that there’s a whole world outside. The design of the Student Commons Building is here to help you remember.
Nearly every room and hallway has giant windows (even the stairwells have them) to let in the Colorado sunshine. Perched right against Speer, the front of the building looks out over downtown Denver, where the transparent walls serve to not only remind us of the job opportunities right across the street, but also to let downtown companies see how active we are on our campus.
At the back of the building, another windowed wall gives the best view of campus with our iconic Tivoli Student Union as the centerpiece. It’s a great place to grab a moment alone, admire the beautiful Front Range, and take a deep breath before you hit the books again.
The Tech Lounge and the Solution Rooms
The second floor of the Student Commons Building is home to the technology lounge with a print center, computers and plug-in charging stations. There are also booths, each separated from the other, with round tables for group work. The room is spacious and bright—a great place to finish that English paper.
There are also “solution rooms”—a new invention for CU Denver. Solution rooms are shared spaces situated between the hallways and staff offices, designed to offer a place for staff-student interaction. With transparent walls, monitors for computer connections and enough room for groups of five, the rooms facilitate more frequent and effective staff-student collaboration.
The Hang Space
Close your eyes, spin around, and anywhere you stop spinning you’ll see somewhere to sit down and relax. Not only does the building have incredibly high ceilings and hallways wide enough to do cart-wheels in, but there are also places to sit everywhere. There are cushioned stools in every room, benches lining most of the hallways and even padded bleacher seats on the sides of the staircases (not to mention the adorable café tables right outside the doors). Senior Institutional Planner Cary Weatherford says the building was intentionally designed to be so roomy because we wanted to have a lot of “landing pads” for students to sit, talk and relax.
The Student Commons Building was designed to bring the feeling of Larimer Street onto campus. That means it has a mix of brick and limestone walls, modern aluminum panels and dark brown wood accents to make it feel like a modern work space. Contemporary light fixtures hang from the ceilings, and bright orange furniture adorns every dramatic open space. It’s truly a hang-out spot to rival the best cafés downtown, and you don’t even have to cross the street to get to it. Later this fall the building will boast two more additions: new artwork commissioned from artists all around the country and a Qdoba restaurant that will serve beer and wine with your burrito.
Basically, whether you’re going to class, printing a paper, trying to finish that last biology chapter or just looking for a place to sit and relax, the Student Commons Building has you covered. Excited? Good. You should be.
Published: September 9, 2014