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Byyny's in the building

By MATT WILLIAMS Colorado Daily Staff

CU officials broke ground on a new building Tuesday afternoon, but no dirt was moved. In lieu of a traditional earth-and-shovel ceremony, supporters of the Alliance for Learning Technology, and Society (ATLAS) gathered under a portable tent northeast of the University Memorial Center to celebrate groundbreaking of the $34 million ATLAS Center. Those in attendance weathered rising heat to hear brief speeches from UCSU Tri-exec Garrett Stanton, donor Jim Roser, ATLAS Director Bobby Schnabel and soon-to-be departing CU-Boulder Chancellor Richard Byyny.

"This is a dream come true," Byyny said of the center, which had been delayed three years because of budget cuts. The building is only the beginning, he said. "The rest of the world will help invent ATLAS."

The ATLAS Institute is an "agile, campus-wide catalyst" for the implementation of information technology at CU, according to the motto on its Web site.

Bynyy said he was surprised when Schnabel announced that a second-floor space within the center would bear the former chancellor's name: the Byyny Teaching and Learning Center.

Officials said the five-story, 66,000-square-foot building will facilitate interdisciplinary work for students and faculty at CU as well as scholars around the world.

Schnabel called the building "a center that will transform CU education." He said more than 6,000 students each semester will take classes in the center. Construction is set to begin today at the former site of the Hunter Science Building. The center is slated to open in August 2006.

According to ATLAS, the building will meld the Tuscan Vernacular architectural style of the Boulder campus with a prominent, carillon tower.

"The ATLAS Center exemplifies what can be achieved through partnerships," CU President Betsy Hoffman said at the event.

The biggest partner is the CU student body. Student fees will cover $21 million of the building's $34 million estimated price tag based on a vote by the University of Colorado Student Union last spring.

According to a CU press release, the state of Colorado will chip in $1.6 million and $6.5 million will come from private donations and federal funds. Hoffman said Comcast and Microsoft Corp., among others, are partners in the center.

"Because of the students, this building is going to be remarkable," said UCSU Tri-exec Garrett Stanton. He praised the successful passage of the Capital Constrion Fee last April, which will help fund the ATLAS Center as well as the new Wolf Law Building that broke ground last fall.

The construction fee will increase student fees at CU by $100 starting the fall 2006 semester, increasing to a $400 increase by 2002009. The fee will continue until 2025.

Stanton said he regrets that students have to foot the bulk of the bill: "The reality being that students shouldn't have to pay for these buildings."

Jim and Becky Roser, who are co-chairs of the ATLAS Advisory Board, have donated $2.25 million for the construction of the center. Their last name will be part of the building's official title, though the ATLAS Center hasn't yet been named officially.

Despite his hefty contribution, Jim Roser admitted that CU's students are integral contributors to the building. "Nobody has any money except the students, so we love them," he said.