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That's what she said

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CU’s Facilities Master Plan Explained


Existing CU Land Use Areas ( click to enlarge

At a PLAN-Boulder forum on Friday, May 13, about the new 10-year revision to the CU-Boulder Capital Facilities Master Plan, Frank Bruno, vice chancellor for administration, disclosed that he expected to meet the following week with the chief financial officer of Naropa University to discuss the possibility of CU buying or trading for Naropa’s campus on Arapahoe Avenue. Bruno also remarked that a conference center represents “an area of interest” for CU, which will be addressed by the university “sooner rather than later.”

The Capital Facilities Master Plan is the facilities component of CU-Boulder’s Flagship 2030 Strategic Plan. By state law the Master Plan is required to be revised every ten years, Bruno said. The current proposed revision of the Master Plan has already received extensive commentary from reviewers on the City of Boulder planning staff, the Boulder City Council, and various members of the greater Boulder community. It is expected to be presented to the Regents for approval in August or September of this year.

Over the next 10 years the proposed revision contemplates:

  • A modest increase in student enrollment by 1,294 undergraduates and 1,427 graduate students to a total of 32,797.
  • A modest increase in employment by 647, including 166 more instructors.
  • A modest increase in research work by 3 to 5 percent annually.
  • Limited additional development on the Main Campus, mainly concentrated on vacant (but not “open”) spaces.
  • Substantial growth on the East Campus and Williams Village.
  • New science facilities — almost entirely on the East Campus.
  • Expanded utilities infrastructure, including “district” heating of buildings through a network of underground steam pipes, and the replacement of coal fired boilers with gas-fired turbines.
  • Extensive re-development of existing student housing and perhaps development of other facilities between Boulder Creek and Arapahoe Avenue
  • “Landbanking” of the South Campus.
  • “Landbanking” of Grandview Terrace, although Bruno mentioned it as a possible site for a conference center.

CU Ten-year Construction Projects ( click to enlarge

Bruno affirmed that CU’s goal is to house 20 percent of its undergraduates, who now number about 24,000. He noted that 1,000 more beds will be added this August at Williams Village II. Another forum panelist, Paul Leaf, the campus architect, said that another residence hall and a common facility, such as a dining hall and/or student union, were planned for the portion of Williams Village west of Bear Creek. Faculty and staff housing is intended for the area east of Bear Creek.  Most of the current dormitories on the Main Campus, including Kittredge Commons, will be demolished and replaced with bigger, denser, “greener” residence halls.

Building space on the East Campus will increase from 2 million to 4 million square feet over the next 50 years, another forum panelist, campus planner Phil Simpson, said. The existing leases of research buildings to private companies will be allowed to expire or be bought back. The East Campus will be organized around five “academic clusters” — life sciences, space sciences, environmental science, energy, and computational science. Bruno said that the materials and style of buildings on the East Campus will be “evocative” of the Main Campus, but not “duplicative” of it. Simpson commented that open space must be preserved on the East Campus to make it appealing.

Effective transportation between the Main and East Campuses will be a major challenge.

Bruno said that he is anticipating a constant stream of buses running between the two campuses on Colorado Avenue similar to the shuttle buses on 16th Street Mall in Denver. He surmised, however, that someday the two campuses may need a more “robust” transportation link, such as light rail or a gondola.

The panelists said that relatively few classes will be taught on the East Campus, but that those which occur will probably be off-set 30 minutes from the classes on the Main Campus to allow students time to move back and forth. Bruno envisioned an era when Colorado Avenue between 28th and 30th Streets will become an attractive pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops and apartments.

Simpson said that 50 acres of CU property is located between Boulder Creek and Arapahoe Avenue — 23 acres of which is available for redevelopment. He also mentioned that an “overbank channel” (similar in function to some of the athletic fields at Boulder High) might be carved out near Folsom Street to create more buildable areas. The 650 units of student family housing along Arapahoe Avenue will be torn down and replaced with at least 1,300 units of family housing. Athens Street will be extended east to connect with Folsom. Simpson said some of CU’s property near Arapahoe Avenue may at some point be offered for a conference center or for use by Front Range Community College.

Simpson noted that 48 new capital construction projects (both new buildings and renovations) have been proposed over all of CU-Boulder’s campuses during the next ten years, but he predicted that only two-thirds of them will actually be built in that period. He said that he expects CU-Boulder will spend $1.054 billion on building construction over the next 15 years, if two-thirds of the projects are completed. Bruno disclosed that much, if not most, of CU-Boulder’s construction is funded by the overhead allowances from federal research grants. He reported that CU had received a record amount of federal research money during the past year, but he expects that amount to drop in the near future.

Bruno said that CU-Boulder intends to not increase the amount of parking spaces on campus and to use technology to manage parking more efficiently. He declared that new buildings will be constructed to at least the LEED (U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold standard, and he noted that CU-Boulder was the first American university to receive a gold rating from STARS (the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System of the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education).

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