Upcoming CU Boulder construction includes major updates, new campus buildings

May 22—The University of Colorado Boulder has several construction projects planned for this summer and beyond, including a $105.2 million, 95,000-square-foot renovation to the Hellems building and the creation of new residence halls.

The Hellems Art and Sciences building renovation is a large-scale capital renewal project that is funded by the state and by campus. The Hellems building is one of the most utilized buildings on campus, with 80% of undergraduate students taking at least one course there.

Chris Ewing, CU Boulder vice chancellor of infrastructure and sustainability, said the Hellem’s renovations were a “super exciting project.” A full renovation is planned to maximize classroom space and adjust office sizes by grouping classrooms and offices together.

The project will also make the 100-year-old building more energy efficient. With the renovation completed, Hellems will see an approximate 50% reduction in energy use while adding air conditioning to the building.

Over the summer, everything in the building will be moved out to prepare for construction in the fall. Classes and offices will be moved to other locations on campus until the project’s estimated completion in December 2025.

CU Boulder is also in early design stages for a new residence hall on campus. The new building will be located north of Boulder Creek and has 400 beds for undergraduate students. These beds will serve as a “swing space” while the existing halls — Farrand, Cheyenne Arapaho and Libby — are being renovated and modernized.

The new residence hall is estimated to cost $116 million and construction will start in spring 2024 with a finish and occupancy date of fall 2026. Another new residence hall with 350 beds near the same location will trail the first by about a year, and it will be more specific to graduate student housing.

“These will provide the swing space to then go into those other three (existing residence halls), and at the end of it all, we’ll have an additional 750 beds,” Ewing said.

The creation and renovation of campus residence halls is part of the campus master plan to increase bed counts within 20 to 30 years by an additional 4,400 to 6,000 from the approximate 10,000 beds on campus now.

“Once these are available, we’ll be able to provide housing for upper class undergraduates or graduate students, which we recognize is a space we want to grow in,” Ewing said.

Also in the design stage is a structural restoration of the Old Main. Old Main was the first building on campus built in 1876, and the restoration project will mostly affect the exterior, including the landscaping, street, brick and more.

The Old Main project will begin construction over the winter with expected completion and occupancy in January 2025. The project is estimated at $13.4 million and will be funded by campus reserves.

“The value of doing the project is the preservation of a historically significant building to the campus and ensuring future usability,” Ewing said.

The Ofelia Miramontes and Leonard Baca Education Building, formerly known as the Fleming Building, is also undergoing the second phase of renovations this summer. The $13.3 million renovation to the education building is a modernization of the space, including classrooms and offices. Construction is expected to wrap up in late fall.

The east campus athletic facilities are also being updated this summer and are expected to be completed by fall. The project will provide restrooms and concessions, all gender restrooms, an equipment storage area and more to address the CU athletics gender equity plan and to meet Title IX standards.

Ewing said all the projects — east campus athletics, the OMLB building, Old Main, Hellems and the residence halls — were designed and constructed with energy efficiency in mind. For example, the new residence hall is being designed to be heated through low temperature hot water instead of steam, and the OMLB building is getting energy efficiency upgrades included in the renovation.

“I think that’s a theme that is worth stating, that all of our projects were going into is through that lens… How do we make the buildings more efficient, how do we reduce energy usage and start striving towards sustainability with all the buildings we touch?” Ewing said.

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