The CU Boulder Campus Architect is responsible for managing and monitoring all physical changes to the buildings and grounds of the university. This task is mandated by administration, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the outside city, state, and national interests who treasure the campus built environment.
CU Boulder is recognized as one of the most beautiful and environmentally conscious college campuses in the nation. Set against a prominent mountain backdrop, its buildings are universally admired for their uniform style of sandstone walls, red tile roofs, limestone trim and black wrought iron accents - all in a romantic Italianate style.
The mission of the Campus Architect position is to sustain the design integrity of the nationally recognized Boulder campus built environment. Pressure toward this end exists from the campus community of students, faculty, staff, and administrators; as well as from alumni of the University and the Board of Regents. This position also receives input from citizens of Boulder and the State of Colorado, including the professional design community. In essence, this position is charged with monitoring collective project compatibility in terms of design and fit with other campus facilities and the available assets of the University.
The role of the Campus Architect is to monitor, advise, counsel, and recommend approval of all physical change to the Boulder campus facilities and grounds – whether from outside consultants or internal sources – so that each alteration is compatible with design and planning guidelines, the recommendations of the Boulder Campus Planning Commission, the University Design Review Board, and executive level campus administrators.
d'Andre Willis, 2021 - present
d'Andre Willis joined CU Boulder in October 2021. Willis comes to campus with over 30 years of experience in architecture and planning. Her most recent experiences leading her own consulting practice and as a vice president at HGA provided her with the opportunity to work on major projects including the Folger Shakespeare Library, Northern Virginia Science Center, the Contemplative Site and African American Burial Ground at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and multiple campus buildings at the University of Virginia, Wheaton College and Marquette University. Willis holds an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
William Haverly, 2014 - 2020
William "Bill" Haverly joined CU Boulder as Campus Architect and Director of Planning, Design & Construction in February 2014. Among many accomplishments at CU Boulder, Haverly was responsible for the design of the home for the Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, which opened in 2019 and established a new architectural language on east campus, and leadership of a transformative Campus Visioning effort. He also served as president of the Association of University Architects. He came to CU-Boulder from the University System of New Hampshire where, as director of capital planning and development, he oversaw planning, design and construction for all four USNH campuses. Before that he served as a project manager at the State University of New York (SUNY), managing design and construction for five state-operated SUNY campuses as well as for 30 community colleges.
Paul M. Leef, 2007 - 2013
The first LEED™ accredited campus architect for CU-Boulder, Paul assumed responsibilities as campus architect and director of Planning, Design and Construction in November 2007. He served previously as campus architect at the Colorado School of Mines and staff architect at the University of Virginia, where he lived on the West Range, designed by Thomas Jefferson, in graduate school. He is a member of the AIA, AUA, and SCUP.
Leef worked with a team of highly qualified professionals to promote sustainable planning and design practices, while providing stewardship of CU-Boulder's rich architectural heritage and image of excellence. He helped develop a facilities master plan that implements the vision of the Flagship 2030 strategic plan.
Steven C. Thweatt, 2003 – 2007
Steve Thweatt directed CU-Boulder capital construction activities beginning in 1994 as Director of Facilities Design and Construction. By 2000, other areas of responsibility were consolidated and assumed by Steve to form the Office of Planning, Design and Construction. At the start of 2003, the duties of Campus Architect were added. In March 2007, he left his position at CU-Boulder to join administration at Emory University. While at CU-Boulder Steve served a term as national president of the Association of University Architects.
William R. Deno, 1985 – 2002
Bill Deno held positions in facilities planning and development from 1973 until 1985 and then added the responsibilities of Campus Architect. He was formally given the title in 1991. From 1985 until 2000 he also directed facilities planning and capital development activities. After his retirement, he continued to provide part time assistance and counsel to successor campus architects. He has authored a book, a film, and numerous articles and studies promoting the legacy of the much-admired Boulder campus architecture and grounds. He is a recipient of the Alumni Association “Stearns Award”, 1997 AIA Colorado Architect of the year, and a 1999 induction into the AIA College of Fellows. Deno wrote the book "Body & Soul" in 1994 to record how this physical development of the campus in the University of Colorado style (the body) supports the academic and social culture of the university (its soul). The book was updated in 2018 and made into a made into a film by Deno available via YouTube. The book is a statement of what makes our campus aesthetic unique and serves as a reminder of what should be protected for the future. Deno’s book "Body & Soul" is available for purchase at the CU Book Store. Campus Architect Emeritus Bill Deno, 94, passed away on Feb. 20, 2023 (read more on Deno's legacy in this July 2023 CUBT article).
The "State University" was housed in one building in 1876, now Old Main. Other buildings in a variety of architectural styles followed until a pause in 1919 to develop a master plan for a 3000 student campus. The Philadelphia firm of Day and Klauder, well known for its work at eastern seaboard colleges and universities, was commissioned to do a master plan, a scale model, and the first new buildings called for in the new campus development plan.
Their first designs were presented in the usual English Collegiate Gothic style used prominently in their work. The existing Macky Auditorium was designed in this style.
However, because of the setting adjacent to the mountain backdrop, the available indigenous stone, and for budget considerations, they proposed a new and unique architectural style for the Boulder campus. After a building or two was constructed, the new style began to be appreciated by the community and since then pressure has never wavered to keep it constant.
A month or two later Klauder returned with the buildings sketched in a new wrap of laid-up sandstone walls, red tile roofs, and Indiana limestone trim.
He asked for this change from the conventional English Collegiate Gothic (like the existing Macky Auditorium) because he felt it would better relate to the Boulder setting and the more proper use of the local sandstone. The Regents accepted his argument, and the first building for liberal arts classrooms and faculty offices was constructed in this style in 1921.
Fifteen other buildings in the "University of Colorado Style" (Tuscan Vernacular Revival) were constructed between 1921 and 1939. To this day, all Boulder campus buildings have been constructed in the unique style and vocabulary of building materials.
Klauder Interiors at CU-Boulder
The CU-Boulder buildings designed by Charles Z. Klauder between 1921 and 1939 are well known for their exterior beauty. There are, however, many interior spaces which show the skill of Klauder as a designer and creator of aesthetically appealing rooms.
Hellems Arts and Sciences
The dramatic main front lobby on the north side of the building is marred by the inclusion of an ugly 1950s vintage florescent light fixture. But the scale of the space and the arched ceiling of the adjacent cross hall gives a good sense of what it must have looked like in 1921.
Carlson Gymnasium Main Lobby
This is a dramatic space not currently in very good shape. It was much diminished when the athletics trophies were removed from the walls, leaving prominent faded spots. On the lower levels, in the spaces that originally housed locker rooms, showers, and access to the "Natatorium" (swimming pool), there are several remaining examples doorways and openings fabricated entirely from copper.
Some of the classrooms still have significant architectural details (fireplaces, wood paneling), but the important space in this building, a two-story ballroom, was destroyed in the 1954 renovation.
The main lobby of the museum and its split staircase is one of Klauder's finest spaces. Walking through the cross hall on the second floor is like a trip back in time.
The central stairhall in the older section has beautiful polished stone floors and stair steps. The wrought iron stair rail and newel post are beautifully fabricated. This space is virtually untouched except that there are no longer curtains hanging from the wrought iron drapery hardware. The second floor stairhall can be considered part of the same space. The intimate feeling reflects this buildings original use as a residence for women.
Unfortunately, McKenna's large living room was altered to create a language laboratory in the 1960s. In a small room to the north, however, its massive carved limestone fireplace still exists, boxed in by walls and HVAC equipment, but still visible.
Although this building always had an "institutional" feeling, there are dramatic, expansive spaces at the top of the stair halls at the east and west ends, where smaller stairs continue up to classrooms on the fourth floor.
The former Music Room, now the Center for British Studies, is perhaps the finest original Klauder room still extant. Even though it had several uses during the years, most of the original fittings survived (chandeliers, sconces, radiator covers, timber ceiling trusses, stone fireplaces). A loving renovation in 1995 has made this arguably the most beautiful room on campus.
Other spaces in Norlin have been altered or obscured. The third floor stair halls, for instance, have round cove ceilings and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Quadrangle. Signage and furniture have lessened the impasse of these spaces. Significant architectural detail is still visible in many rooms in spite of massive amounts of ductwork and electrical equipment at the ceiling level.
The main floor of this building has suffered only minor damage from remodeling over the years. The east lounge has an original fireplace and wood floors. Drapery hardware is still in use in the major rooms. The main central hall is essentially unchanged from Klauder's original. The Club has much original furniture, probably chosen (if not designed) by Klauder.
Baker and Sewall Halls
These buildings are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing, and this writer has had little personal experience in these buildings in recent years. There are, however, many spaces in these buildings which have been unaltered since their construction. The main parlor at Sewall, for instance, still has all its original wood paneling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A vital contributor to the quality of the CU-Boulder campus built environment is the development of the campus floor -- all the space not covered by building footprints. Starting as a barren treeless plain in 1876, the campus floor has since been planted and paved into a verdant complimentary landscape to the building architecture, backed up against the Flatirons mountain formation. View the campus tree tour online.
Signage, Sculpture, and Memorials
Facilities Management is responsible for wayfinding on campus, which involves directional, identification, and regulatory signage. We also value exterior sculpture and art as desirable assets to the campus grounds, along with opportunities to memorialize people and events that are an important part of the university's history.
For more information about campus landscape elements, contact Campus Landscape Architect Richelle Goedert