Published: Aug. 26, 2001

Students, faculty and football fans visiting the Boulder campus this fall are likely to notice the College of Engineering's new Discovery Learning Center taking shape at the east entrance to campus.

The three-story building at the corner of Regent Drive and Colorado Avenue will provide a 45,000-square-foot addition to the engineering center for inquiry-based learning and research. Construction of the $15.3 million addition began in summer 2000 and will continue into the 2001 academic year.

Exterior construction is scheduled to be complete in January, with official opening and dedication of the facility slated for April 26, 2002.

A pedestrian walkway around the construction site, adjacent to the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, will continue to be in use through the fall semester.

However, starting in the spring semester, pedestrians coming onto campus from lot 436 will be able to walk under the second-story bridge joining the ITL Laboratory with the Discovery Learning Center. From there, they will enter a new brick plaza adorned with a granite ball fountain and seating areas, nestled between the wings of the engineering center.

Pedestrian and vehicle access to the engineering center from Colorado Avenue also will be restored by early spring.

Engineering Drive, an L-shaped access road that links Colorado Avenue and Regent Drive, will be reconstructed, and a small parking lot with faculty, staff and visitor spaces, will be built on the north side of the new building. Pedestrians will be able to enter the plaza by walking under the third-story bridge joining the Discovery Learning Center with the north wing of the engineering center.

Another eye-catching exterior feature of the new building is the observatory dome, which already has been lifted by crane onto the roof adjacent to Regent Drive.

The observatory will house a 12.5-inch telescope built and donated to the Colorado Space Grant Consortium by Associate Vice Chancellor for Graduate Education Rodney Taylor.

Consortium director Elaine Hansen said the equipment will be used for education and student research, and that undergraduates plan to make the telescope remotely operable so students in K-12 classrooms across the country can view its images over the Internet.

Laboratories for research and study in aerospace engineering and space experiments, biomaterials and biotechnology, drinking water systems, information technology and telecommunications will be housed in the new facility, along with videoconferencing, multimedia teaching and team meeting rooms.

The Discovery Learning Center is part of a college-wide initiative to increase access to sponsored research for students at all levels. Like the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, which set a new standard for interdisciplinary hands-on learning when it opened in 1997, the DLC is pioneering a new educational philosophy - the widespread integration of undergraduates into the college's research mission.

The center, designed by Klipp Colussy Jenks DuBois Architects of Denver, was made possible by a match between state and private donations.