Published: Feb. 1, 2023

As we kick off 2023, architectural and construction planning is well underway to preserve our oldest and most historic buildings, modernize others, and build new facilities to improve our research capabilities and provide state-of-the-art facilities for our students.

Restoring Old Main: Structural improvements for the next 150 years

The first building on campus, Old Main, marked the creation of CU in 1876. As with any building nearing 150 years of age, it is in need of structural repairs and stabilization. To accommodate the repairs and maintain the historic architectural features of the building, the brick façade will be painstakingly removed and then reinstalled once the structural improvements are complete. The total cost for the renovations is estimated at over $13 million. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2024.

Reimagining Hellems: Honoring the space that serves so many

Constructed in 1921, Hellems is one of Boulder campus’s oldest buildings. Hellems is also one of the most heavily used buildings on campus, with data suggesting 85% of all CU graduates have had at least one class there. The university is currently designing a comprehensive Hellems renovation project to revitalize its out-of-date features and begin to mitigate a substantial deferred maintenance backlog. The renovation will maintain the historical and architectural integrity of the building, while also modernizing the classrooms, expanding the interior corridors, and improving access and energy efficiency. It will also provide improvements to the attached Mary Rippon Outdoor Theater. Given the history and importance of the Hellems building, the state is providing some funding to augment the campus’ contribution. The total project cost is $105 million and is expected to begin during the summer 2023 term. The renovation will take nearly three years to complete.

Reinventing chemistry lab spaces: Supporting research in the 21st century and beyond

One of the challenges facing the campus is how to address the technical and laboratory needs of the 21st century when many of our buildings were built to address the smaller needs of the mid-20th century. Cristol Chemistry was a state-of-the-art facility when it was built in 1958, however, it is now considered inadequate. The smaller lab structures and accompanying equipment will limit the effectiveness of even a full renovation. Accordingly, the campus is exploring the prospect of building an entirely new chemistry building that would combine undergraduate education with research in modern facilities. This project would be paired with a renovation of the Ekeley teaching labs to bring the chemistry program fully into the modern era. As this project is in an early phase, the scope, schedule and estimated costs are still in development.

Reinvigorating campus housing: Creating new and updated living spaces for future Buffs

Finally, the housing facilities on campus are in need of both renovation and expansion, and therefore the design is underway for two new residence halls planned for the North Boulder Creek area for both undergraduate and graduate/family housing. Each building would address the demand for more apartment-style living, and one of the facilities would temporarily serve as swing space so Farrand could be renovated, followed by Cheyenne-Arapahoe and Libby. A new parking garage is planned near the new housing to serve the occupants and the neighborhood. Each building will cost more than $100 million, with the first building to open in summer 2026 and the second following in summer 2027.

We are eager for construction to start on these needed and exciting capital improvements. We look forward to providing you with updates as the work continues to unfold!

Chris Wright, Director of Capital Finance

*Correction made to residence hall open dates.