New Science & Engineering Building for the University of Colorado
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) had long been planning to expand the building used for its science courses given the inadequacy and obsolescence of the existing structure which had been built in 1981. However, the new Science & Engineering Building took almost a decade to build due to financing difficulties. Although public funds had been allocated in 2000, they were cancelled in 2001 due to state budget restrictions. UCCS subsequently succeeded in obtaining USD 20 million funding and managed to raise the remaining USD 36 million needed to complete the work through bonds, grants and donations. The first stone was laid in 2006 and the building was officially opened in August 2009. This new building is the largest and most innovative on the entire campus with 11 classrooms, 32 teaching laboratories and 53 research laboratories, enabling UCCS to restore its longstanding reputation in the field of scientific research. The project has also laid the foundations for fruitful cooperation between the academic body, researchers and students in the departments of biology, physics, mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering as well as with the Institute for Science and Space Studies and the CU Institute for Bioenergetics, which are both based here. The architectural design of the new complex was influenced by the curving morphology of the hilly terrain to the north. The stepwise and terraced vertical organisation was dictated by the steep slope of the terrain and by the need to interconnect with both the existing buildings and the vehicular and pedestrian traffic systems planned at various levels on the campus. The building stands at the foot of Pikes Peak in the heart of Campus Cragmor, opposite El Pomar Center and the main pedestrian walkway running across the campus. Its four floors offer a total of 14,818 square metres of operational space, of which 3,538 square metres are for teaching, 2,201 for research, 1,379 for offices and 7,700 public spaces, utilities and circulation. The hillside terracing ensures on-grade entrances up to the third level, while the fourth is linked to the existing buildings via a bridge. The steel structure with brick veneer, the metal panels and the satin aluminium window systems are consistent with the building standards maintained throughout the campus. The building’s finger-shaped profile, which serves to reduce the interior and stairwell volumes, also maximises the influx of natural light. Construction techniques and materials were adopted with a view to obtaining LEED certification. The same applies to the floors of the main hall, the secondary hallways and the bathrooms where Ecolabel certified full-body porcelain tiles from Atlas Concorde, Format Grey and Black collection were installed. The air conditioning system uses a combination of sustainable methods and traditional techniques. The primary air-handling system is equipped with variable speed drives and high-efficiency motors to reduce energy consumption. CO2 sensors control the influx of outside air as required and improve it with hi-tech filters. At night when the air is cold and electricity demand low, the chillers form reserves of ice in the reservoirs that are then reused for cooling water in the air-conditioning cycle. Artificial lighting and water consumption are constantly monitored and optimised with the aid of electronic presence detectors, while a solar panel system mounted on the roof assures an electricity production of 13.6 kW.