New Construction

Colorado System Breaks Ground on Spur Campus

Although the usual groundbreaking celebration was put off due to COVID-19, the Colorado State University System broke ground this month on its newest campus. The Denver site, dubbed "Spur," will eventually include three buildings, focused on the studies of food, water and health. The concept is to provide education to anybody and to serve as a hub to connect people not just within the region or the state but also around the world.

Spur, expected to be fully open in 2022, hopes to draw "lifelong learners," researchers, families and tourists, K-12 students on field trips, college students pursuing degrees in fields related to agriculture and sustainability, and local artists creating pieces in on-site studios.

Concept for "Vida," the first of three buildings that will make up the Denver-based Spur campus as part of the Colorado State University System. From The Clark Enersen Partners

Concept for "Vida," the first of three buildings that will make up the Denver-based Spur campus as part of the Colorado State University System. From The Clark Enersen Partners

The facilities will be part of the National Western Center, which will open in 2024 as a year-round, destination for agriculture and food innovation, western heritage and culture.

The first building at Spur, named Vida, will focus on animal and human health. It's calling on CSU's veterinary medicine program and will include programs where veterinary students will be able to get hands-on experience. Plans include hosting a second location for the institution's Temple Grandin Equine Center, which provides equine-assisted activities and therapies to humans with a range of needs; and working with the Dumb Friends League, to offer a subsidized clinic for companion animals.

"Spur is all about fostering joint research; providing free public access to education about issues that impact every facet of our lives; and encouraging deeper awareness and understanding of how food, water and health connect people and communities worldwide," said CSU Chancellor Tony Frank, in a statement.

Spur advisor Tom Vilsack, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under the Obama administration and former Governor of Iowa, acknowledged the critical need for transdisciplinary institutions such as Spur. "The coronavirus pandemic underscores the importance of understanding connections between food and health. These topics are at the heart of animal health, human health, and a vibrant economy," he said. "Spur will grow our appreciation for all those involved in our agricultural and food industry and will help develop sustainable systems that can adapt to challenging disruptions."

While construction is just beginning, Spur programming is well underway and will expand as buildings open, noted Amy Parsons, executive vice chancellor of the CSU System. Advance programming will encompass the annual "Water in the West Symposium"; yearly health clinics for pets whose families live nearby; equine-assisted activities and therapies; and a student-focused partnership with nearby K-12 schools, among other events and activities.

"Our team has been building relationships in the surrounding community and across the state, and we're already offering programming by our three system institutions: CSU in Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo, and CSU Global," Parsons said. "These programs reflect what will become part of the daily fabric of Spur."

JE Dunn is the general contractor on the Spur project. CAA ICON is serving as project manager. The Clark Enersen Partners is the design team for the Vida building.

The 114,000 square feet Vida is expected to be done in September 2021. Construction for the other two buildings is scheduled to start in October 2020. The unnamed "water" building will be 122,000 square feet and is scheduled for completion in August 2022. And the food and agriculture building, also unnamed, a 60,000-square foot building, is scheduled for a January 2022 completion.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.