Remaking the Lory Student Center

Colorado State University is planning to renovate its Lory Student Center, a project that’s scheduled to begin next year and which will be a showcase to the university’s commitment to students in the 21st century.

The refurbished center, expected to be completed in time for the start of the fall semester of 2014, will be designed to meet the needs of a larger, more-diverse student body, said Mike Ellis, the center’s executive director.

The new center will have a more open design, incorporating more windows, offering spectacular view of the mountains to the west to the expected 20,000 to 25,000 students a day that will use it.

“There will be more glass and much more openness and connection between the three levels of the building than currently exist,” Ellis said.

The renovated center also will contain two art exhibition spaces, the Curfman Gallery, which is in the current building but will be relocated, and the Duhesa Gallery.

Targeted student services, such as the Native American and African American cultural centers, will be placed in one centralized location, instead of spread throughout the building.

The renovation will add 40,000 square feet to the existing center’s 310,000 square feet.

There will be a larger food court, with more indoor and outdoor seating, and a refurbished Ramskeller brew pub on the lower level.

A new portion of the building will contain a larger ballroom and additional meeting rooms. The new building will continue to house the headquarters for the associated students, the fraternity and sorority system, and other major campus organizations.

“You (will be able to) do everything from buy lunch, attend a meeting upstairs, work in a quiet study area or have a beer down below,´ said student body President Eric Berlinberg, a senior business major and a member of the center’s master plan committee.

About $60 million of the $65 million budget for the project will be paid out of a 30-year bond issue with the other $5 million from student center reserves and other fundraising, Ellis said.

A $70 per semester student fee increase to pay for the bonds will begin when the building opens in the fall of 2014. CSU students approved the fee increase in April 2011.

“Only the students who are going to be enjoying (the center) are going to be paying for it,” Berlinberg said. “I wish that I was going to be a student here when it is done.”

Fort Collins-based architects Aller Lingle Massey make up the lead design team with help from Perkins + Will, a national firm that has designed new student centers at Texas A&M University, now under construction, and the University of Washington, Ellis said.

The designers are aiming to achieve “platinum” environmental certification, the highest level, under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The LEED ratings are based on points credit for water and energy efficiency, use of renewable materials, indoor air quality, innovation in design and other criteria.

Many faculty members are looking forward to the ballroom and food court expansions, which will make the campus more attractive for conferences, said Doug Hoffman, a business school professor on the master plan committee.

“It’s a positive for conferences as far as the faculty is concerned, and it helps with your brand image and attracts students,” Hoffman said. “It’s good all the way around.”

The renovation is technically the third phase of improvements to the student center. The first phase was a bus terminal on the north side of the building that opened in 2007, Ellis said.

“Previously bus riders waited outside in the cold for the bus,” he said. “Now they have an indoor place to wait.”

A second phase, the $6 million renovation of the student center theater, is now under way with completion scheduled for June.

The new theater will be larger and more flexible to host a wider variety of concerts and other performances.

Designers based the color scheme on the rock formations at Horsetooth Reservoir west of Fort Collins.

The student center is one of a series of building programs going on now or planned for the near future to answer the growth in the university’s student population.

“Right now we’re at about 27,000 students,” Ellis said. “The president’s goal is to be prepared for 35,000 students.”

Elsewhere, CSU is renovating and expanding its main library, a project that will be completed right after finals week this spring. The university is also expanding its engineering building and adding fourth floors to its three-story Braiden and Parmelee residence halls.

About 5,000 students live on campus and more than 20,000 live in the communities surrounding the university.

“We have an aging infrastructure and bond rates are so low that it makes sense to do (the upgrades) now,” Berlinberg said.

The only downside to all the construction, Hoffman said, is that it can give the public the impression that the university has plenty of money, even though the faculty haven’t had raises in three years.

“Higher education is struggling as these buildings are going up,” Hoffman said. “But (the faculty realizes) that construction funding and salaries come from separate funding sources.”