Colorado University Fetes New Building

Published on August 31st, 2010

The University of Colorado at Boulder celebrated the completion of its Center for Community recently with a series of campus events. The building is anchored by a 900-seat, street-market-style dining complex offering freshly prepared food in nine specialty stations, including sushi, Italian, Brazilian, and Persian dishes.
Known in campus shorthand as "C4C," the new facility sits strategically between student dormitories and academic buildings, while the Flat Iron Mountains serve as a dramatic backdrop. The Center for Community houses all 12 student support offices, such as career counseling, and a commissary that supplies all other food outlets on campus. Its culinary marketplace, which is the largest restaurant in the state, is expected to provide nearly 4,000 meals a day.

The ultra modern dining facility is geared to satisfying the tastes of an increasingly diverse, sophisticated, and international student body, as well as persons with food allergies. Homesick students can even bring in family recipes for chefs to make on the spot.

With its exterior walls constructed of rough-hewn variegated sandstone fashioned from local quarries and terracotta roof tiles, the 183,000-square-foot building adheres to the existing campus aesthetic even as it embodies a commanding new architectural presence. An expansive, three-story atrium and signature bell tower is the anchor for four elongated wings that capture both natural light and afford inspiring views. Parking for 375 vehicles is located below grade. The building is slated for LEED Gold.

Centerbrook was the design architect, collaborating with Davis Partnership Architects of Denver on the project. The foodservice design was done by Baker Group of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The building took just 15 months to construct. “It was important to the school that we understood how to make a new building fit in,” said Centerbrook Partner-in-Charge Jim Childress. “They love their campus architecture, it’s who they are. Accomplishing this wasn’t as simple as using similar materials. It involved understanding the forms and how they connected, weaving them together. The design was inspired by Tuscan Hill towns, but it’s a bit more formal.”

Childress said that the food outlets are designed to engage as well as nourish hungry scholars, pointing out that, as an example, the Italian food station is playfully tricked out in a Vespa Scooter theme, while The Grotto boasts an ever-changing lightshow on its ceiling.

Childress and Centerbrook were also the design architects for the Wolf Law School and the Health Sciences Library at the University of Colorado’s Boulder and Denver campuses respectively. All told, Centerbrook and Davis have collaborated on five projects in the Colorado University system.