To the Tivoli Commons and Beyond

The Sentry explores several building projects on campus, including the Tivoli Quad set to unveil in May.


It’s difficult to turn the corner without running into a building project on campus. Construction is underway around the Tivoli and library, has just finished on 10th Street, and is set to start up in the North Classroom.

One such project, the Tivoli Quad, is sponsored by Auraria Higher Education Center with funding from students at all three colleges.

Katy Brown, director of Communications and Campus Outreach for AHEC, explained the project. “It came from the Auraria Board,” Brown said. “They put together goals every year for the campus, and having more student spaces was an important piece.”

The project looks to address some of the difficulty in getting in and out of campus. “Part of the Tivoli Quad project that will really enhance the campus is some additional street access,” Brown said. Work is underway on a two-way bike lane on 11th Street, which will connect the north and south sides of campus.

The area around the new Quad previously had occasional use by food trucks and musicians. The construction aims to grow that and become a hub for events as well as transportation.

“This will be an extremely rewarding project that will benefit the students for years to come.”

Terry Buck

AHEC | Senior Project Manager

“There will also be an amphitheater as part of the landscaping on the Quad,” Brown said. “That will make it possible to have concerts and other kinds of events in that space.” The amphitheater will complement the existing stage by the south side of the Tivoli, offering an option with actual seating.

Along with wifi, the Quad will provide for quiet study as well. “There will be quite a bit of green space— walkways with seats, a lot of trees— there’s supposed to be some water features,” Brown said. Associated with the Quad project is an expanded coffee patio southwest of the Tivoli.

Another element to the new area is the addition of plaques, which explain the history of the campus and the neighborhoods it was built on.

Terry Buck, the AHEC Senior Project Manager for the Tivoli Quad project, points to the long term impact of the project. “This will be an extremely rewarding project that will enhance and beautify the campus and benefit the students for years to come,” Buck said.

Initial funding came from the Auraria Foundation, a nonprofit which supports building purchases and construction on campus. “The project is being jointly funded by a one-time cash donation from the Auraria Foundation and a student fee that students from all three institutions on the Auraria Campus approved in April of 2015,” Buck said.

The fee is an ongoing charge of $5 per student each semester. The fee, at this point funding the Quad project, will continue with the goal of improving shared lounge spaces all over campus, like those in the West and Arts buildings.

The next project remains undecided. “I would personally like to see funds saved and allocated towards a renovation of the interior of the Tivoli,” CU Denver student and Chair of the Student Advisory Committee to the Auraria Board Alyssa Kriese said. “As much as I love working and studying in an old mall from the 1980s, that peach and kelly green paint has got to go.”

The project sought to address the needs of students by getting thoughts from them along the way. “Students have had an enormous amount of input,” Kriese said. “A student sat on the Quad design team, and SACAB has seen and approved plans along the way.”

The Quad will open at the end of this semester. “They are planning to open up the Quad right around the commencement for CU Denver,” Brown said. Some features may require additional time.

There is more going on in Auraria construction than the Tivoli Quad. Resurfacing 10th Street to make it comply with Americans With Disabilities Act standards is complete. The project ditched the old cracked asphalt for a smooth expanse of brick and cement.

Other projects are finishing the design phase. Major renovations of the North Classroom start this summer, updating a building that, in places, has not been touched since construction in 1987.

Kevin Keady is an architect with RNL, a firm that has performed design and construction management all over campus. He has a personal interest in the project.

“As an alumnus of CU Denver and having taken many classes in North Classroom, I am tremendously excited for the potential this building has,” Keady said. “It is easy to view it as a tired old space, but with the right amount of sensitivity and creativity, it could be one of the most vital places on campus.”

The remodel is planned to start this summer, with design choices informed by input from meeting with faculty and discussions with students. Although the building is owned by AHEC, the remodel is a CU project since the vast majority of students who use the building are CU Denver students.

The project is funded by CU Denver’s on-hand money, meaning that there is currently no direct cost, via fee or tuition increase, to students.

Besides overhauling the aging building’s mechanical systems and bringing it into compliance with the LEED Gold standard, the project will renovate classrooms to make them more accessible for students in wheelchairs.

The project also hopes to create classrooms better suited for modern teaching methods and layouts. Specifically, the blueprints will allow for larger lecture halls to have students split up into small groups, currently made difficult by fixed chairs and tiering.

Construction is expected to continue until next November in small steps in order to ensure the building will have enough open classrooms to accommodate current students.

The new CU Denver Wellness Center will also start construction this summer in July. When it opens, currently expected to be in Spring 2018, its designers hope the space will provide food and socialization, as well as a wellness suite and a gym to see to student’s physical health.

Cary Weatherford, associate director in the Office of Institutional Planning, explains the funding. “The $6 per credit hour fee was implemented in Fall 2015 and will increase to $12 per credit hour starting in 2017,” Weatherford said. “SGA and CU Denver administration worked to secure the rest of the funding for the Wellness Center through a combination of partnerships and CU capital funding.” Current CU Denver students will get memberships based on this fee.

The last major building project underway for the CU Denver community is the continuing remodel of the Auraria Library.

“The Library is actually run by CU Denver,” Brown said. “But the majority of the funding for that project actually came from capital development funds from the state of Colorado.” The Library also ran fundraisers, adding $6 million in funding to the $27 million from the state. The project itself is run by AHEC.

This project is in its second phase of remodeling. The first phase, based on a 2009 student survey, provided more group meeting areas, new restrooms, and improved the wifi and electrical systems.

This renovation will further develop group areas and open up the first floor. There will be a new entrance on Lawrence Street. The remodeled library will also allocate space to provide a physical location in Denver for the Center for Colorado & the West. The Center, better associated with CU Boulder, explores history and looks at its applicability to modern problems.

Though most of the projects going on are at least partially CU Denver projects, the flurry of activity has spread—Metro State is working on a new Aerospace and Engineering Building at 7th Street and Auraria Parkway.

With all the construction underway, the Auraria Campus with all its various governing bodies is looking to create a campus to allow for greater socialization of students. To do so, the projects aim to improve accessibility for students with disabilities and modernize the campus and its learning spaces.

—Gideon Simons

photo: Korina Rojo • CU Denver Sentry

Student Advisory Committee to the Auraria Board

Alyssa Kriese

Chair, CU Denver Representative


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