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Sense of Place

University of Colorado, Boulder builds the Village Center

Offering students dining options, study spaces, conference amenities, and a health clinic
University Business, August 2017
  • DINING AND MORE—The new Village Center has been designed around nutrition and sustainability. It’s the only dining center on the CU Boulder campus that doesn’t have deep-fat fryers, and students can blend their own smoothies by hopping on a blender bike and pedaling.
  • DINING AND MORE—The new Village Center has been designed around nutrition and sustainability. It’s the only dining center on the CU Boulder campus that doesn’t have deep-fat fryers, and students can blend their own smoothies by hopping on a blender bike and pedaling.
  • DINING AND MORE—The new Village Center has been designed around nutrition and sustainability. It’s the only dining center on the CU Boulder campus that doesn’t have deep-fat fryers, and students can blend their own smoothies by hopping on a blender bike and pedaling.

Nestled in the shadows of the iconic Flatirons mountain range, CU Boulder is home to 35,000 students, nearly 7,000 of whom reside on campus. The new Village Center offers those students multiple dining options, study and collaboration spaces, conference amenities, and a health clinic.

CHALLENGE: CU Boulder was founded in 1876, and more than half its buildings date back to the 1960s and 1970s—including the former dining hall in the burgeoning Williams Village area of campus. Renovation was neither a practical nor cost-effective proposition in accommodating the needs of the 2,800 students who reside nearby.

“We wanted to create a facility that was more than a dining center,” says Katie Theiler, director of marketing and communications for university housing and dining.

SOLUTION: The 113,000-square-foot Village Center contains 52,000 square feet of dining space, including 700 seats inside and an additional 200 outdoors. The facility features seven different areas—including Indian cuisine, local farm-to-table and all-day breakfast—as well as catering and teaching kitchens. Also on site are the clinic, an entrepreneurial business center and conference facilities.

Collaboration spaces and study nooks encourage students to hang out beyond meals. The project is targeting LEED Platinum certification, and the university plans to add a 140-kW solar photovoltaic array. The building relies on natural light from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. each day, with 13 skylights and glare-proof windows that lighten and darken as needed.

A 3,000-square-foot greenhouse, slated to be operational by fall, will feature 140 8-foot aquaponic towers that will provide all the lettuce for the salad bar.

Students can also take advantage of blender bikes (above) to whip up their own smoothies. Four outdoor dining terraces offer scenic views of the Flatirons.

“It’s a place to study, it’s a place to go get your checkup—we really designed this building to accommodate the growing population of students so that they didn’t feel like they needed to go to the other parts of campus to get all the benefits,” says Theiler.

COMPLETED: January 2017 • Cost: $48.9 million • Project team: Architect & interior design: KSQ Design PC (Denver); food service consultants: Baker Group (Grand Rapids, Mich.); equipment dealer: Johnson-Lancaster and Associates (Clearwater, Fla.); construction: GE Johnson Construction Co. (Colorado Springs). 

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