The Neighborhood Plan for the University of Colorado at Denver establishes a new identity for the institution amidst the blended character of the Auraria Campus. The campus, which also contains the Community College of Denver and Metropolitan State College of Denver, has traditionally been isolated from downtown Denver. It has the sensibility of a suburban campus rather than a 39,000 student campus adjacent to a major downtown. This has been particularly problematic for UC Denver since, unique to the institutions on the Auraria campus, a number of its major buildings are in fact in downtown including the Architecture School, the Administration Building and the recently purchased Business School. This Neighborhood Plan had four fundamental goals:
To achieve these goals, a number of strategies are proposed. One of the most significant was the transformation of Speer Boulevard, the 8-lane parkway that serves as both a visual and pedestrian barrier between the campus and downtown. These changes include on-street parking, an enhanced streetscape, and better crossings. A major new academic building is proposed that will bridge over Speer to the campus creates a literal “BRIDGE” where the campus is brought to downtown. This animates the pedestrian connections with uses such as galleries and public spaces and also creates a strong link to Cherry Creek. On the campus side, at both Larimer and Lawrence, a series of gateways are created to signal arrival at the campus. Plazas create a sense of welcoming and gathering to mark the campus.
Larimer is brought into the campus as a tight urban street lined with academic buildings with public uses on the lower levels. A new pedestrian way is created that links the Larimer/Speer crossing with the Tivoli tower. This forms a zipper that both separates and unifies the campus with the proposed mixed-use district to the north. The identity of the UC Denver Neighborhood is established through the creation of a strong center: a natural quad with a bell tower, a new heart for UC Denver.
Sustainable approaches are woven into every aspect of the new campus. Green roofs, carefully managed drainage channels, and local energy are woven into the buildings and the site. The angle of the new bridge building is idealized to create the optimal solar orientation despite its setting in the city. Through these changes a new vision is established that will guide the identity for the University of Colorado at Denver in a new direction for decades to come.
Client University of Colorado
Type Urban Design, Master Planning
Size 100 acres
Cost Estimate n/a
Date 2012 (with RNL)