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University of Northern Colorado Transforms Parking Lot Into $73M Campus Commons

Wed October 25, 2017 - West Edition #22
Brad Broberg

The $73 million Campus Commons under construction at the University of Northern Colorado will be a hub for the arts, a center of student services and a gateway for campus visitors when it opens in the fall of 2018.
(UNC photo)
The $73 million Campus Commons under construction at the University of Northern Colorado will be a hub for the arts, a center of student services and a gateway for campus visitors when it opens in the fall of 2018. (UNC photo)

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) is transforming a former parking lot into a new nexus for students, visitors and the arts that brims with high-performance features.

Construction began in October 2016 on the university's Campus Commons, a 109,000 sq.-ft. building that will open in fall 2018.

The general contractor is AP Mountain States of Aurora, Colo. Major subcontractors include Nelson Civil of Centennial, Colo. (earthwork and utilities), Encore Electric of Lakewood, Colo. (electrical), U.S. Engineering of Westminster, Colo. (plumbing) and Total Concrete Services of Longmont, Colo. (concrete foundation). To date the $73 million project has involved 30 workers.

Semple Brown Design and Handprint Architecture of Denver designed the two-story building, which is clad in glass and brick and occupies a 6-acre site on UNC's campus in Greeley.

“The Commons represents the intersection of many interests — all of which are vital to our role as a university,” said Kay Norton, UNC president. “It creates meaningful connections among three traditionally distinct functions — an integrated student support hub, a gateway for campus visitors and modern performance space for our world-class arts programs — while also providing flexible public space for everyone to use.”

Campus Commons will house admission counselors, campus tours, student orientation, study abroad programs, career services, alumni relations and other support programs. The facility also will house a 600-seat performance hall, rehearsal spaces, a multi-purpose auditorium and an art gallery as well as a student run cafe. An outdoor quad will connect the Campus Commons to the University Center, where numerous other student services are located.

The university asked the architects to design a building that will meet or exceed the requirements to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy Environmental Design) Gold rating from the United States Green Building Council.

By striving to conserve energy and water and create a healthy indoor environment, the building will reduce UNC's total cost of ownership and provide students and other occupants with an example of green design and construction in action.

High-performance features include: low-flow plumbing; high-efficiency chillers; variable speed drives for air handling equipment; carbon dioxide monitoring of densely occupied spaces; occupied/unoccupied controls for all applicable spaces; and an outside air economizer for recirculating air handling units.

Key pieces of machinery involved in grading/excavating, installing utilities, installing caissons, pouring foundation walls, hoisting forms/rebar, street sweeping and managing storm water include: Schwing concrete pump; Spiro Drill LDH40 drill rig; Bobcat S740 loader; Skytrak JLG forklift; Hitachi 60USB mini-excavator; John Deere 644K loader; Tadano GR00XL mobile crane; and Komatsu PC390LC backhoe.

The Campus Commons will help UNC meet its goal of increasing enrollment to 15,000 by fall of 2019 from 12,000 today. The university is financing $25.2 million of the cost through a $160 increase in the student capital fee. The state kicked in $38 million. The rest is coming from private donations.


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