Published: Jan. 31, 2017
Koelbel Building

Editor’s note (March 2, 2018): The scope of the proposed building expansion mentioned in this story continues to evolve as the design process moves forward. As of early 2018, concept plans call for an expansion that physically connects the Koelbel building and the Engineering Center. Updates will be posted on the Leeds website as more details emerge.

The University of Colorado Boulder on Tuesday, Jan. 31, released a request for qualifications for concept design of a 30,000-gross-square-foot addition to the Koelbel Building that will enhance programming for both the Leeds School of Business and the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

The project, initially slated for completion sometime in early 2020, would also include a 10,000-gross-square-foot renovation of existing space, including a portion of the William M. White Business Library.

The initial estimated project cost is $22 million, to be raised by the Leeds School through donations, along with support from the College of Engineering and Applied Science to help fund construction of a new auditorium.

The expansion is expected to provide creative, collaborative and connective spaces to better deliver the 21st-century education essential to developing future business leaders, as well as critical classroom and faculty space. It will also help strengthen the connection between the innovation occurring in the business and engineering programs at CU Boulder.

The project is to include a 200-seat auditorium and 175-seat active-learning classroom. Both will be used primarily by the Leeds School and the College of Engineering but will be centrally scheduled. A new innovation and entrepreneurship hub will help serve the university’s commitment to students’ success by providing an interdisciplinary space where they can collaborate with business students, faculty and local business leaders about turning their ideas and projects into business ventures. Reorganization of the business library, meanwhile, will improve services and provide more efficient student study space.

"This new space expands our abilities as a top business school, and it will provide a hub for business innovation and entrepreneurship," said Sharon Matusik, interim dean of the Leeds School of Business.

The exact location of the expansion is still to be determined, though it is slated for the north side of Koelbel, between that building and the Engineering Center. Another goal of the project is to create a strong physical connection between the two colleges that will literally and figuratively create a bridge between the two programs. A small number of faculty offices will also be included to help accommodate anticipated future growth of the Leeds School. The project will also address deferred maintenance issues at Koelbel, related largely to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

"The Koelbel addition, while a great benefit to the Leeds School of Business, will also create value for students and faculty across campus," said David Kang, vice chancellor for infrastructure and safety at CU Boulder. "The new 200-seat auditorium fills a critical need identified by both the Leeds School and the College of Engineering and Applied Science, while the new innovation and entrepreneurship hub will be a space where ideas from all disciplines can blossom."

With Tuesday’s request for qualifications (RFQ), campus officials expect architects to begin concept design work in April and complete that phase by September of this year. If fundraising is in hand, the project would go to the Board of Regents for approval once schematic design is completed. Pending regent approval, further design and construction document work would proceed in the second half of 2018, with construction beginning the spring of 2019.

The expansion includes two critical funding requirements to proceed beyond conceptual design and achieve the target timeline. First, all philanthropic commitments must be in place by August 2017. Second, those commitments must be paid by December 2019.

The Leeds School Advancement team is working with prospective philanthropic investors who have previously expressed interest in helping fund the expansion to secure commitments by August and keep the project on its aggressive timeline. Their support illustrates a commitment to continued momentum in sustaining a top business school aligned with campus strategic imperatives, and a desire to bridge engineering and business through entrepreneurship and innovation.

"We’re excited to engage with our partners and the community to make this project a reality, helping us to drive our mission of being an innovator in business education," Matusik said.