The 40,000-square-foot building will have two auditoriums that each seat 135 students, six classrooms that will seat 50-75 students, a technology lab, coffee shop and lounge areas. Photo by Dustin Cox

Room to grow

When construction crews first broke ground on the modern campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo in 1964, they unknowingly started a tradition of expansion that would span the length of a half-century. In nearly every decade since then, the campus has undergone some form of growth.

The university’s newest projects, which include construction of a general classroom building, renovation of the Occhiato University Center and the addition of a soccer and lacrosse complex, are on their way to become a new generation’s contribution to an evolving campus.

But the similarities among these buildings, which are slated to be complete within a few years of each other, are limited to their generational ties. Among funding, maintenance and design, the structures all have a significant set of differences.

The general classroom building will be the first of the three major projects to be finished. The building, which is set to be complete in July, will begin welcoming classes in the fall 2015 semester.

“Right now, it’s about 80 percent complete. They are putting carpet, paint and still doing mechanical, electrical work. But the building is closed in. The exterior is done and they’re doing the site work,” said John Barnosky, director of planning and construction at CSU-Pueblo.

The building, which cost approximately $16.1 million to build, was financed by the Colorado state capital construction fund as an academic building. The university secured this funding after a proposal to the capital development committee was approved.

Capital construction funds only apply to individual projects and according to a university fact sheet, “capital construction appropriations cannot be used for day-to-day operations of the campus.”

“These funds can’t be used for anything but what they’re designated for, by statute,” Barnosky said.

So, basically, that $16.1 million could never have any other purpose but the construction of a new academic building. In the midst of the budget crisis at the university last year, many were left asking why some projects, such as the new building, were moving forward when positions were being cut. The simple answer is this: that money couldn’t have been used for any other purpose.

But, once the new building is up and running it’s up to the physical plant, CSU-Pueblo’s maintenance department, to maintain it as required by the state.

One of the university’s last steps for the general classroom building will be to submit points to the U.S. Green Building Council to see if it qualifies as a LEED Gold building.

“They did a nice job, I will say, on the classroom building. It looks like it belongs here on the campus.” – John Barnosky, director of planning and construction at CSU-Pueblo

“It will take a few months before we know if we’re awarded the points, but the design team is tracking the points and it looks like we’re good for gold,” Barnosky said.

Another ongoing campus project is the soccer and lacrosse building, which was started in April 2014.

The building, along with improvements to the adjacent soccer and lacrosse field, was funded completely by donations from the CSU-Pueblo Foundation’s On the Move campaign. The project cost $2.5 million.

In addition to the funding, local construction companies have donated supplies to help build the structure.

“Some of the major donors that donated material are Summit Brick Company from Pueblo, TNT Electric from Pueblo, KR Swerdfeger Construction from Pueblo and there are many others,” Barnosky said.

The physical plant will also be required to maintain that building once it is completed.

But perhaps the university’s most pressing construction project is renovation of the Occhiato University Center, which was first added to the campus in 1974.

Since it was constructed, the building has only seen minor improvements, all of which were intended to maintain the building, not add to it.

Renovation of the 41-year-old building will be much more complicated than the university’s two other major projects.

“The library and the OUC both have existing asbestos that has to be abated in the materials. It’s not dangerous in its place, but it has to be removed so it isn’t disturbed during the renovation,” Barnosky said. “So, that’s another complication in terms of cost and time that a new building doesn’t have.”

The university center is home to several university offices, a ballroom, the school’s cafeteria and the student health center, as well as many meeting rooms.

“It’s also more complex to relocate places from the existing building while it’s being renovated because you can’t do the abatement or new construction while there are people in there,” Barnosky said.

The renovation, which will cost approximately $30 million, is funded by part of a facility fee that is paid every year by CSU-Pueblo students.

“This amounts to enough facility fee every year to account for a $30 million bond issue, which is the way the OUC is being funded,” Barnosky said. “So, that facility fee that the student government voted on almost four years ago is the major component that provides the major revenue stream to pay off the bonds.”

The CSU-Pueblo Foundation will also be contributing funds to help construct a 200-seat theater in the OUC. While the amount of the donation is still being determined, it will remain separate from $30 million in student facility fees.

Since the OUC is not funded by the state, it exists as a private entity.

“It has to make enough money to operate and create its own revenue. It receives no state money. So, they’re just like a private business out there that has to contract for all the services they need,” Barnosky said.

The 40,000-square-foot building will have two auditoriums that each seat 135 students, six classrooms that will seat 50-75 students, a technology lab, coffee shop and lounge areas. Photo by Dustin Cox
The 40,000-square-foot building will have two auditoriums that each seat 135 students, six classrooms that will seat 50-75 students, a technology lab, coffee shop and lounge areas. Photo by Dustin Cox

So, while the physical plant is not required by the state to maintain the building, it does so on a contract basis. The OUC hires the physical plant to take care of its maintenance, just like a private company would.

“It’s more efficient generally,” Barnosky said. “And then the standards of maintenance and custodial meet the same standards that we have for the academic buildings.”

While the construction process for all of the new projects has been quite different, the buildings are at least required to look the same.

An emphasis on the architecture styles Brutalism and International Style is responsible for the modern appearance of CSU-Pueblo.

Brutalism, which was introduced to the architecture world in mid-1960s, uses boxy concrete shapes to create a harsh, minimalist facade.

International Style was developed in the 1920s, but became more popular in the 60s. It focuses largely on clean geometric shapes that lack any sense of ornamentation.

According to a May 1963 issue of the former campus newspaper, The Arrow, the campus was “in a position to become one of the few colleges in the nation that could be planned with a single architecture style.”

As new facilities are built, CSU-Pueblo’s design review team is tasked with making sure all current design plans stay consistent with those of the past.

The review team, which was mandated by the CSU System Board of Governors to ensure a uniform design, consists of three private sector architects, three private sector planners and Barnosky, who represents the university.

“They did a nice job, I will say, on the classroom building. It looks like it belongs here on the campus,” he said.

The general classroom building will also have an art display, a requirement of the state capital construction fund.

“On the state-funded buildings, we are required to spend 1 percent of the state funds for art in public places,” Barnosky said. “And we will have about $117,000 worth of art, which is selected by a jury.”

As crews wrap up construction on the general classroom building, the renovation of the OUC and completion of the soccer and lacrosse building will become the university’s next priority in terms of construction.

The OUC is required to follow the same design standards as the rest of the academic buildings on campus. Barnosky said the review team is currently in the process ensuring consistency in the building’s early designs.

The soccer and lacrosse building, which belongs to the athletic sector of campus, is required to comply with a separate set of design standards.

“It also complies with the design standards for the athletic and recreation sector down there, like the football building and the baseball complex,” Barnosky said.

Decades from now, this generation’s construction projects will blend with those of the past. But for now, the buildings are distinct tools in following a tradition of growing a campus half a century old.

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