Facilities Management

University of Colorado Boulder

Campus Design Principles

Incoming architectural designers are not presented with set "design guidelines" for the Boulder campus. Purposefully, they do not exist, because there are an abundance of both old and new examples to follow, and guidelines may constrain more imaginative results. However, there are key principles to follow.

Architect Charles Z. Klauder, originator of the "Tuscan Vernacular" style said: "The architectural effect aimed at is a group effect -- the effect of the whole rather than one of its parts." The principle of unified campus architecture rather than single-building exhibitionism is most important. The CU-Boulder campus is cut from whole cloth, never from patchwork parts. This principle also applies to the design of the individual building as well.

The continued use of the existing building materials palette -- indigenous sandstone walls, red barrel tile roofs, limestone framed wall openings, and black wrought iron accents -- is imperative. The charm lies in the details of how these materials are used. Klauder's forms are "soft and playful" as opposed to his imitators.

The architecture should reflect its setting -- and vice versa. The campus is a place of respite that feels comfortable and relaxed -- a place where the landscape of knowledge and the landscape of buildings and grounds synergistically meet. Buildings and landscape are always scaled to people.

Ideal architectural forms for all new campus buildings should be:

  • Soft, playful, non-serious forms that are natural and simple
  • Forms that are picturesque and exhibit charm
  • Modest in massing with detail reserved for focal points
  • Interesting in silhouette with roofs of various heights and intersecting forms

Overall, the Tuscan Vernacular style fits the setting, the local building materials, the climate, and the needs of the university.