Published: Feb. 11, 2022

The University of Colorado Board of Regents today approved CU Boulder’s 2021 Campus Master Plan, which lays out a vision for the campus physical environment that best supports the university’s core mission of education and research.

Required on a 10-year cycle by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, the document focuses on development and maintenance of campus facilities over the next 10 years while also projecting a 30-year overall vision. 

“We’re planning for and building the campus of the future, and this comprehensive plan will help ensure good stewardship of campus resources as we enhance teaching and research through our facilities for decades to come,” Chancellor Philip DiStefano said. “I commend the comprehensive process of our campus planning team that incorporated the collaboration of so many of our campus stakeholders.”

The 2021 Campus Master Plan provides continuous planning guidance for future facilities decisions related to the full spectrum of campus activities, including academics and research, residential life, arts and culture, athletics and recreation, open space, transportation and parking, infrastructure and sustainability. 

Key elements of the plan include: 

  • Redistributing instructional space to relieve congestion in the heart of Main Campus.
  • Redistributing and developing new research facilities east of the Main Campus core and on East Campus.
  • Diversifying the mix of uses, ranging from student life spaces to academic spaces, on East Campus and at Williams Village to enhance vibrancy at each location.
  • Increasing the on-campus housing inventory over the 30-year planning horizon to meet current and future housing needs.
  • Implementing a phased approach to renovation and renewal of aging existing on-campus housing.
  • Continuing to improve existing and historic campus buildings to ensure their ability to provide state-of-the art teaching and research spaces for decades to come.
  • Focusing on multi-modal campus mobility, including pedestrian, transit and parking needs at both the inter- and intra-campus levels.
  • Preserving and continuing to improve the campus landscape in terms of context, climate, ecology and open space.
  • Targeting improvements to points of interface with neighborhoods, the city and community.

The Campus Master Plan, paired with recently developed custom software tools, will be agile and allow for continuous planning and a more comprehensive pre-design process than has traditionally been available to the university and campus planners. The software tools also enable a Campus Master Plan that is less prescriptive and designed instead to support ongoing decision-making with regard to emerging requirements, project prioritization and implementation.

“These tools will help us to remain nimble,” said David Kang, vice chancellor for infrastructure and sustainability. “A key goal in creation of the 2021 Campus Master Plan was to craft a road map for land use on our campus that is adaptable to the ever-evolving education and research needs while staying true to the overall vision.”

CU Boulder’s Office of Planning, Design and Construction, led by Assistant Vice Chancellor Chris Ewing, spearheaded the CMP effort, with Campus Planner Amy Kirtland serving as project manager and partnering closely with global design firm Sasaki. 

The CMP project team kicked off the initiative in fall 2020 by inviting the campus to participate in an interactive mapping exercise. The team subsequently engaged with hundreds of stakeholders from the colleges and schools, more than two dozen operational units on campus, representatives of the CU Student Government, the Graduate and Professional Student Government, the broader campus and local community and city staff to gather valuable insights that helped shape the 10-year planning effort.

The Campus Master Plan is the culmination of multiple cross-campus collaborative efforts. In particular, it builds on the work of the Strategic Facilities Visioning initiative that was completed in the fall of 2019 with the development of the PREVIEW digital planning tool that aids campus leadership in making the most meaningful and impactful infrastructure investment decisions that are in alignment with the long-term vision for the campus. The Campus Master Plan also incorporates the efforts of the Transportation Master Plan, Housing Master Plan and Energy Master Plan sub-planning initiatives. 

Strategic Facilities Visioning identified several campus infrastructure needs that helped guide the CMP project team, including elements like non-scheduled study and lounge spaces; dedicated space for graduate students; space for marginalized and first-generation students to create community and receive specialized support; spaces for academic and advising support; active and flexible classrooms and resources to support immersive learning; space for content creation studios; coworking space; and unique outdoor environments for student gathering.

“We are grateful to Amy for her leadership on this project, as well as the hundreds of campus and community members who helped shape this vital planning process along the way,” Ewing said. “The sophisticated analysis and integration of mission and planning that has gone into this Campus Master Plan will elevate our Planning, Design and Construction efforts to a new level.”