A refined wooden and glass entryway facing Lawrence Street invites you inside a door that never existed before. The brightly lit lobby cheerfully greets students, staff and students, offering a seat on the varnished bench running from one entry to the next. Track lighting adds that extra spark, just in case there’s that little bit of homework or those notes you need to review while waiting. This is not your parents’ CU Building.
Those who haven’t visited the CU Building on the corner of Lawrence and 14th streets downtown lately will be surprised, and pleasantly so. Gone are the dark hallways, cement walk areas, heavy metal storage areas and old tiles.
“The building was designed as an office environment in the 1980s,” explains the renovation’s architect, Joe Poli of Humphries/Poli Architects. “It did not always translate well when serving the needs of the students and faculty of the school.”
The building’s facelift includes:
First Floor: Four new, large classrooms that seat from 24 up to 65 UC Denver students, ADA bathrooms, upgraded standard bathrooms, expansion of the lobby, new entry to Lawrence Street via a new vestibule, upgraded interior of elevators, increased square footage of the Fire Command Center, upgrades to the telephone rooms, upgrade to the security desk and new connecting hallway to the MBA Suite.
Seventh Floor: Teaching studios crafted specifically for the architecture program were created featuring flexible teaching environments for 10 studios, in addition to critique and lecture spaces. New spaces also included restrooms, technology and service spaces.
“The primary driver was to create desperately needed classroom space for all students and to improve the studio environment for students of the College of Architecture and Planning,” explains Cary Weatherford, senior institutional planner. “One of the ancillary goals was to change the way that the building relates to Lawrence Street, most specifically by adding a new entrance to the building on the Lawrence Street side.” Previously visitors entered the building on that side through the loading dock.
“The design sought to open up the first floor of the building to improve the visitor experience and to accommodate the large number of students who will be using the new classrooms,” Weatherford says.
The seventh floor remodel obviously benefits the College of Architecture and Planning, which is gaining additional student studio space from the project. However, all UC Denver schools and colleges will benefit from the first floor remodel either directly, such as those that schedule courses in the new classrooms, or indirectly, including those that will have more scheduling time available in existing classrooms because of the additional class space.
The renovations went beyond the comfort, glam and additional classroom space. Building lighting, mechanical, electrical service as well as security, technology, fire protection and elevator service were all improved as part of this renovation.
Initial construction of the “Million Dollar Beauty,” as Sharon Anthony, university senior project manager, likes to call it, began in April of this year and will be completed sometime in November. But it won’t stop there.
Facilities Management hopes there are lots more renovations to come, including five more classrooms on the first floor and making the building even more accessible by creating a path of travel from the 14th Street (front) entrance straight through the building and out to the Cherry Creek side.
Poli notes, “The design is a blueprint for a successful higher education learning environment in the Central Business District, an exciting place for learning and an attractive recruiting tool.”