Published: Jan. 17, 2017

Smoothie bike

The smoothie station at Village Center features a bicycle-powered blender.

Students returning for the spring semester now have a brand new place to gather at Williams Village. Opened on Jan. 11, the Village Center Dining and Community Commons is the latest construction by Housing & Dining Services that features state-of-the-art services from dining to residential programs, as well as healthcare and counseling.

The construction of the 109,000-square-foot building began in July 2015 with the demolition of Darley Commons, the previous dining center at Williams Village.

“Based on student feedback from a few years ago coupled with our own vision and desire to provide top-notch services to our students, we have built a facility that we think students will be very pleased with on both an academic and social level,” said Amy Beckstrom, executive director of Housing & Dining Services.

Among the amenities of the new building are a five-station dining center featuring items such as all-day breakfast, curry, menus from the Mediterranean and Middle East, locally-sourced Colorado fare, salad bar, smoothie station and traditional grill items.

On certain nights during the week, the dining center will transform after closing into the VCStudy, a late-night study space for all students at the university. Although no food stations will be open during VCStudy hours, students can purchase food from The Grotto, a late-night venue featuring a stage and an outdoor fire pit that will be open daily until 2 a.m.

Sustainable building features
  • To reduce the ecological impacts of creating new materials and shipping them to a new location, local and recycled building materials were used during construction. The large wooden tables in the western dining room are made from Colorado beetle-kill pine.
  • Electrochromic glass external windows were installed. These windows act similarly to transition eyeglass lenses, darkening when direct sunlight hits them, which eliminates the need for window blinds and leaves the beautiful views available all day long.
  • To prevent heating and cooling from running in rooms that are unoccupied, HVAC systems with sensors were installed.
  • Native plants were used in landscaping, which cuts down on the need for excessive irrigation and fertilizer and does not affect local ecosystems negatively.
  • A biodigester was added to the dining center to treat food waste and create an eco-friendly product that is safely re-added to waste-water supply.

Students, especially those living at Williams Village, will also enjoy having the new Wardenburg Health and Counseling Clinic (HCC) at the Village Center, which will house three clinic rooms and three counseling rooms. 

Other tenants and services making their home at the Village Center will be the Academic Success and Achievement Program (ASAP), a free tutoring service provided to on-campus student residents, which is opening its second location (Kittredge Central offers another option for students). The Residence Hall Association will also have a presence in the building, providing better office space and hall leadership representation to this part of campus.

By fall 2017, there will be even more perks for students. The Village Market will replace the current Village Express and Market in Stearns Central and serve as a grab-n-go and retail operation. UPS will also be opening a full-service shipping and mailing center for students, staff and the greater Boulder community.

Additionally, one of the more anticipated amenities of the new building will be the 3,000-square-foot greenhouse that will produce fresh greens and produce year round for the salad bar and dining center just steps away from its hydroponic growing towers. The greenhouse will begin construction this spring and be completed by the beginning of next school year (fall 2017).

And finally, there is a new entrepreneurial space for students on the first floor. The details are still being ironed out, but students may be asked to submit ideas for a business that, if chosen, can begin incubating at the Village Center.  CU Boulder Today will provide further details once the process for the space is finalized.

Housing & Dining Services is also in the process of securing Leed Platinum status for the Village Center, making it the third building by Housing & Dining Services to earn Platinum status—the highest-ranking green certification for a building that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. The other two buildings are the Center for Community and Williams Village North Hall.