New buildings planned to extend CU’s top programs
Plans are underway for a new aerospace and energy systems building as well as a new geosciences building at CU.
The Board of Regents accepted program plans for each project during their March 27 meeting.
Paul Leef, the planning, design and construction director at CU, said the regents will consider the plans again at their June meeting, while prioritizing the budget requests from all three CU campuses before submitting them to the Colorado Commission for Higher Education.
“The board, basically by accepting the plan, endorsed the idea of moving forward with those projects,” Regent Kyle Hybl said.
Hybl said they are a long way from being started in that they still have to go through the state process and go through CCHE, make the list and be approved by the legislature.
The geosciences and aerospace and energy systems programs have been lacking space as they have continued to expand throughout the years. Jim White, a faculty leader in writing the program plan for the geosciences building and a professor of environmental studies and of geological sciences, said this is because of a lack of funding.
“This has not been a really swell time for state funding for the university, so what we’ve had to do is sort of grab whatever space we could and pigeonhole ourselves in places,” White said.
White also emphasized the necessity of these buildings.
“We are internationally known, and we find ourselves in the situation where we’re just struggling to find space to do the research that we’re funded to do,” White said. “What’s really important here is to recognize that CU is a national leader in environmental research and education, and I think that we have a real need for facilities to match our education and research.”
JoAnn Zelasko, assistant dean in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, said she agreed.
“We have to grow our buildings to support student growth,” she said.
According to the program plan for the aerospace and energy systems building, the 77,690-square-foot facility would be located on the corner of Colorado Avenue and Regent Drive, on the north side of the Discovery Learning Center, and would cost approximately $39.7 million.
Zelasko said this building would provide students with the opportunity to work more closely with the faculty and to learn experientially through new research facilities and labs.
According to the program plan for the 100,000-square-foot geosciences building, this $59.5 million facility would be on CU’s East Campus.
“We recognize that we will be separate from the main campus for a while,” White said. “But we’re willing to be those pioneers to find a way to develop this multi-campus model that we’ll have to go to in the future.”
Leef said both projects will draw funding from a blend of sources that include state appropriated capital construction funds, donations from fund raising and campus resources, such as revenues derived from research grants.
The proposals for both plans still have a while to go before being put into action. Leef said the plans will be reviewed by CCHE, which will make recommendations on capital construction priorities to the legislature during the session next fall.
Because all the institutions of higher education are vying for a very limited amount of construction dollars, the decision of whether or not these plans will become a reality will come down to funding cuts within the legislature, Hybl said.
Both White and Zelasko said they are optimistic that the plans will be approved by the state and that people working in each department are excited to see this happen.
“I think it depends on how the governor and the legislature and the administration here at CU and at other universities in the state sort this out,” White said. “Down on my level, we’re just plugging away, working hard and trying to keep our fingers crossed and keep the biggest smiles on our faces as we can.”
Zelasko said this is an exciting time for the campus as a whole because there are many construction projects that are either in progress or that are being planned.
The program plans for the aerospace and energy systems building and the geosciences building come at a time when many other changes are being made as well, such as the construction of the Visual Arts Complex, the upcoming renovation of Norlin Library and the upcoming construction of the systems biotechnology building.
“These are interesting buildings, but they are two of just a tremendous amount of great stuff happening to the campus,” Zelasko said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Kaely Moore at email@example.com.