Facilities Management

University of Colorado Boulder

Building Materials Vocabulary

The materials that comprise the campus built environment maintain a consistency of design excellence. Native sandstone walls, clay barrel tile roofs, limestone trim, and black wrought iron accents make up the principal elements of this palette.

Native Sandstone
Sandstone for campus use is obtained from a number of Front Range quarries between Boulder and Loveland. Generally, the range of color has run from red on the south to white on the north. The stone is not carefully cut in blocks, but fractured in layers of 4-6 inch flat pieces ranging in length from a few inches to many feet. Thickness varies from 3/4 inch up to 5-6 inches. Each stone is laid flat with its fractured face extending varying distances beyond a vertical wall line of 1/4 to 1/2 inch mortar. The result is a pattern of highlight and shadow that presents a beautiful textured masonry wall.

Limestone Trim
Limestone quarried in Indiana has been commonly used as window and door surrounds, lintels, coping, and other trim on buildings as a counterpoint to the pink sandstone and red tile roofs. It is also used for carving sculptural elements of all kinds. Mixes of gray and buff colors occur on campus with some sprinkling of examples from Kansas and Texas quarries.
Architectural and Precast Concrete
Poured-in-place concrete has been used for building ground stories and retaining wall when appropriate to do so. However, the preferred alternative is precast concrete which can simulate to some extent limestone forms in texture and color, but it does lack the natural appearance of quarried stone.
Roof Tile
Vitreous clay barrel tile in several patterns is used to roof campus buildings. A pattern of several colors from dark brown to light buff are used to produce an overall textured red color. Roof shapes include gable, hip, shed, and variations of each. Flat roofs are discouraged, and most mechanical equipment is enclosed in attic spaces beneath sloping roofs.
Wrought Iron Accents
Lamps and lanterns, balcony rails, decorative pieces, sign posts, and other wrought iron elements are painted black. Railings of all types that are used as barriers, fencing, and on steps and ramps are part of this inventory of accents to the buildings and grounds.
Other Material Uses
Doors and door trim, windows and window trim that are wood are usually painted black. Other painted surfaces include roof vent stacks, fan vents, exhaust and intake stacks which are not painted to match roof tiles, but to a uniform neutral color. Cabinets or screens that enclosed equipment either on roof tops or ont he ground are also painted the standard neutral color.