Published: Dec. 2, 2016

How can future redevelopment of the Boulder Community Hospital site along Broadway, between Balsam and Alpine avenues, align with the community’s vision and goals and enhance the character of the neighborhood? This is a question the city of Boulder has set out to explore with the community since purchasing the property in 2015.

A student discusses a design drawing with a community member.

Photo by Stephen Cardinale.

As one part of that exploration, the city and the University of Colorado Boulder partnered this fall to gather ideas from CU Boulder students, as well as middle and high school students.

The results of the students’ work will be on display at an open house – free and open to the public – from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, at eTown Hall, which is located at 1535 Spruce St. in Boulder. RSVPs are requested.

Attendees will be able to hear student presentations. They also will learn how to get involved in the multi-year planning project, called A Boulder Community Project: Alpine-Balsam.

The event marks the first initiative of the national Metrolab partnership announced in the spring between CU Boulder and the city of Boulder. The aim of the partnership is to include the community, faculty, staff and students in sustainable urban design, such as green infrastructure, data-driven technologies and affordable housing initiatives.

“This project gives students an opportunity to learn about and contribute to the city of Boulder,” said Brian Muller, faculty director of CU Boulder’s Community Engagement, Design and Research Center (CEDaR), which supports research and teaching on community engagement, city design, urban management and public policy. “By designing real solutions to critical urban problems, the students gain practical experience that helps guide them toward meaningful career paths.”

Design ideas the CU Boulder students will present at the Dec. 9 open house include exposing the area’s Goose Creek (which currently is piped underground), creating pedestrian and bike trails, rezoning the neighborhood to offer affordable housing and creating a website to document the area’s development.

“The MetroLab partnership is particularly relevant for projects like Alpine-Balsam, helping to inspire innovative thinking from the creative input of CU Boulder students, as well as the broader community,” said David Driskell, Boulder executive director for Planning, Housing + Sustainability. “Together we can explore responses to current challenges, such as energy system change and housing affordability, creating outcomes that will have value for our community far into the future.”

Funded through a CU Boulder Outreach Award, CU Boulder’s role in the Alpine-Balsam project, with CEDaR support, has involved more than 200 environmental design, environmental studies and Masters of the Environment students in researching the site history, mapping the site, interviewing neighborhood residents and creating ideas.

Growing Up Boulder, a CEDaR-based initiative that involves Boulder's young people in local issues, also will share input at the open house collected from Casey Middle School and Boulder High School students about how to redevelop the area. The input includes a cancer treatment center for children and a playground.

"This work represents an exciting new model for holistic community engagement that advances academic missions while helping to address pressing community needs," said David Meens, director of the CU Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement.

At the open house CEDaR also will celebrate its official launch. For more information visit RSVP at Evite