The ^Gcad-jcte School of Design g n d Planning
of the University of Colorado ct Derive ... A New Facility
12- 1- 03
Table of Contents
II. Background Information
A. Brief Description of the College of Design and Planning
B. Bromley Building versus A New GSDP
C. Campus Wide Perspective
D. Current Space Deficiencies
III. Site Analysis
B. AHEC Master Plan
C. Site Circulation
A. Spatial Requirements
B. Relationship Diagrams
V. Building Codes and Zoning
VII. Summary Sheet
VIII. Design Development Sketches
IX. Design Solution
The Thesis of Craig D. Gibson is approved.
University of Colorado at Denver Spring 1984
The body of this program information was taken from a previous thesis project by Randy MacMillan. I have edited his report to a large degree, though part of the translation remains verbatim. The accuracy of his information has been substantiated by other sources. Since the major challenge of the thesis is the design development, I felt it redundant and unnecessary to record the entire background and programmatic information "in my own words."
The design problem is a new facility to accomodate the University of Colorado at Denver's School of Design and Planning. The program calls for 60,000 square feet, roughly; and includes studio space, exhibit space, classrooms, jury rooms, offices for administration and faculty, a library, bithrooms, service areas, etc. The site is the northeast corner of the campus of the Auraria Higher Education Center, adjacent to Speer Boulevard.
It is my intention to explore a set of issues and ideas most apropos to this particular problem (in conjunction with my personal philosophy regarding architectural design).
Those issues are . . .
1. Contexturalism. Many of today's architects and
architectural critics decry the need for a building to blend
into its physical context, seemingly to the point of disap-/
pearing. I feel that these "contextural ists" are too wi 1 L<^to compromise on beauty for the sake of the surroundings. In other words, form is subjugated to context.
Consider the visual experience (i.e. the act of looking at something, anything). It is not a static event; one does not always view an object at arms length. Typically one perceives an object from different points of view: from afar, to up-close. At times an object is seen only as itself, and at times one seesonly fragments. I contend that an object must stand on its own, just as a piece of sculpture can be admired in a gallery or in a garden. Architectural design, for me, is a sculptural composition which solves a set of pragmatic requirements. Though the success of the design may be enhanced by the dialogue it has with the surrounding forms, it need not depend on it.
2. Human Ecology. The environment in which one lives and works has a profound effect upon one's behavior. Assuming the goal of the school is to develop successful architects (as creative as well as productive individuals), the spaces I design must enhance and stimulate the thought process of the student.
Interstitial Spaces. The Auraria campus is located in
downtown Denver. Thus the project should be an urban design point of view. Interstitial spaces between buildings, building elements, forms, edges of one sort or another demand attention as the building itself.
considered from spaces those landscaping almost as much
The College of Design and Planning
The College of Environmental Design (now known as the College of Design and Planning) originated as a five-year program on the Boulder campus. The current CDP is unique in that it is the only Colorado school that houses all five major design disciplines (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Planning, Urban Design, and Interior Design) under one roof.
In 1976, the graduate program was moved to the Denver campus in order to closely associate itself with practicing design and planning professionals. The transfer was a strong step toward integration with the "real world" and has lead to the school's reputation for a pragmatic curricula that deals in energy, environmental, and economic realities. The Center for Community Development and Design (CCDD) is illustrative of CDP's community service orientation. The CCDD is a branch of the school that draws on the student and faculty resources of all five divisions in order to provide technical assistance to communities and individuals with real design problems.
School projects often parallel those in progress in the real world, if they do not actually contribute to them. Involvement of practicing architects, landscape architects, and planners in school affairs is healthy, as they serve on juries and as technical resources.
Another strong link to the community is the proportion of CDP students ^ho work part-time in design firms and planning agencies which are concentrated in the metropolitan area.
Among design schools nationally, this close community interaction distinguishes the graduate program of the College of Design and Planning in Denver.
On the other hand, the scope of imagination, and the depth of understanding of architecture as an art form, on behalf of the majority of both students and faculty, is not up to par.
It is the opinion of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) that pragmatic issues and technical
expertise is emphasized at the expense of design quality. I agree. Two of my objectives, then, are to enhance the existing favorable relationship with design professionals as well as the community at large, and to provide an environment of vitality and inspiration for the occupants (assuming one's surroundings influence one's creative capacity).
Bromley Building versus A New GSDP Relocation of any school or business is a major disrupting event that has numerous physical and economic consequences. What are the underlying assumptions and logic behind leaving the current Bromley Building, in favor of a new facility?
First of all, there are several good qualities about the
present CDP site. The downtown location at 14th and
Lawrence has strong community interaction advantages due to
its proximity to professionals. Many students and faculty
like the ambiance of the Bromley Building, which dates from
the 1880's as a former pharmaceutical warehouse. The masonry /
work on the street facades, the cornice, and the heavy timber construction are reminders of the type of craftsmanship that
is almost a forgotten art in the vernacular of modern architecture. The large, operable north windows, high ceilings, and views of the city skyline make Bromley's adaptation to a design studio most appropriate. Nevertheless, the current building has many functional drawbacks.
Campus Wide Perspective
The logic of relocating UCD and CDP evolves from a perspective of the Auraria Higher Education Center as a whole. This campus is unique nationally in that three educational institutions (Metropolitan State College, Community College of Denver, and UCD) share many common facilities such as the library and gym. A strong community and vocational orientation is common to all three. The campus, however, effectively ends at Speer Boulevard on the north side. UCD and CDP are isolated by ten lanes of dangerous, high-speed traffic. By moving UCD to the new location this barrier is eliminated as far as coordination and interaction among
the three institutions is concerned.
Current Space Deficiencies
The functional organization of the Bromley Building leaves much to be desired. Most notable is the lack of classroom and lecture SDace. Classes are held in the adjacent East
Classroom Building in windowless, poorly ventilated rooms, ill-suited for audio visual presentations. To accomodate large gatherings, space must be borrowed from the Science Building during left-over time slots.
Exhibit and jury space is inadequate and poorly defined. Support shops, the audio-visual equipment room, the computer room, and the darkroom are scattered throughout the building and generally lack adequate space or a good functional relationship to the studios. Faculty office space is also in short supply.
The library is grossly inadequate on two counts. First it serves as the major circulation route to the computer room. This, by itself, would be tolerable. However the computers are a continuous distraction with their incessant clicking and clacking. Second, the library is simply just too small lacking adequate seats, not to mention books.
A resource so fundamental to the learning process deserves a comfortable, well-tempered environment.
The student lounge is rarely used because it is windowless, and isolated from the studios. It fails as a facilitator of student interaction, an important social function in a non-resident college, especially among design students, where informal exchange is so important to the creative process.
The entry sequence is awkward. Not only is there no "front door," but the reception and administration are on the second level.
Overall, the Bromley Building is overcrowded with no room for expansion. The studio space is perhaps the best adapted activity in the building; other activities find themselves where they can. Though the building somehow works, the other alternative is preferable.
The site I have selected for the College of Design and Planning is on available state-owned land on the Auraria campus; bordered by Speer Boulevard on the northeast,
Larimer Street on the northwest Lawrence Street on the southeast, and 12th Street on the southwest, and 12th Street on the southwest, (figure #1). Relocating the CDP to this site should effectively unite the school with the main campus, while at the same time, provide an anchor for the Lawrence Street pedestrian Mall.
This site is near the origin of the city at the conflunce of the Platte River and Cherry Creek. The town of Auraria (where the campus got its name) grew up on the south side of Cherry Creek while "Denver City" evolved on the north bank. Auraria was later incorporated into Denver, and became a stable middle, to upper-middle class neighborhood as the Nitith Street Historical Park graciously reminds us.
By the turn of the century, Auraria had changed into a pre-don inantly Hispanic, working class district mixed with light industry. St. Cajetan's Church is one of the few remaining landmarks of that parish. The 1950's and 1960's saw deterioration in the viability of the neighborhood for reasons common to most inner city housing areas. Consequently, in 1972, voters approved a 42 million dollar bond issue which created the Auraria Higher Education Center.
This resulted in the full demolition of the neighborhood except for. three churches, fourteen 9th Street houses, and the Tivoli Brewery. The existing campus, completed in 1975, represents the third or fourth generation of building on the site.
AHEC Master Plan
The firm of C. F. Murphy and Associates developed a campus master plan to guide development for the three institution complex. Briefly, it maintained the existing street grid that has its numbered streets running NW SE at 31 west of north. The main reason for keeping this grid
is attributable to the utilities system that was in place under the streets. A 30 foot by 30 foot planning grid was superimposed parallel to the street grid to serve as the basis for development of the new campus buildings. This planning unit has been strictly adhered to, as it is also a very economical structural bay size. Vertical modules are of five-foot increments with an overall height limit of fifty-five feet, except for the St. Elizabeths' steeple.
The general campus concept designated perimeter parking lots on the western edge of campus and in the northern corner. Pedestrian malls criss-cross the campus, while auto traffic is held to the perimeter. The Learning Resources Center (library) logically occupies the heart of the campus.
It is bracketed by the academic buildings the south and by student related services (gym, bookstore, cafeteria) on the north. Open space is preserved along Cherry Creek and Speer Boulevard on the northeast edge. The proposed UCD CDP site was Intended as open space and was called the "Auraria Green" in the master plan. In actuality, the two-block site provides surface parking for 900 cars, constituting a visual blight but a necessary evil for a nonresident campus of 35,000 students.
The UCD relocation now under discussion will involve a
50.000 square foot addition to the Science Building and a
200.000 square foot allocation for the remaining UCD facilities on the block southwest of 12th Street. Auto traffic from Lawrence and Larimer Streets will be rerouted to the northwest edge of campus, thereby creating the opportunity for a more humane linkage.
Being non-residents, the 35,000 Auraria Students depend heavily on the automobile, bus, and bicycle for transportation to and from classes. There are in excess of 4,600 parking spaces on the campus covering about fourteen city blocks of land. Development of the Lawrence Larimer site will eliminate 900 of those spaces on two blocks. This suggests that a multi-story parking garage will be constructed if those parking lots are to be replaced. I am assuming that
structured parking will be developed on the lot north of Larimer between 12th Street and Speer. This strategy, together with the aforementioned relocation of traffic on Lawrence and Larimer to the Market Blake Parkway supports the original concept of holding parking to the north and west perimeter of the campus while eliminating disruptive through auto traffic. Without traffic on Lawrence and Larimer, the usefulness of 12th Street is negated; therefore 12th Street will be vacated northwest to Larimer.
Noise and air pollution associated with the heavy traffic volumes on Speer Boulevard will continue to impact the site. Some means of alleviating this problem will be addressed.
Students depend heavily on RTD bus service, which includes eight routes on the current Lawrence/Larimer alignment. Bus routes will be relocated to the proposed parkway.
The bike paths along Cherry Creek and the Platte River are the major arterials connecting the campus to out-lying neighborhoods. There are access ramps at Curtis Street and at Market Street near the site; consequently bicycle paths should connect them to the proposed CDP building. Ample, wel1-designed bicycle parking areas should be developed near the entrance to the new building(s) so that pedestrian circulation is unimpeded.
With the relocation of Lawrence Street traffic, this corridor can logically be developed as a pedestrian mall, which connects the Auraria library and Student Center with the UCD CDP complex. An effective means of separating delivery truck access and bicycle traffic, from pedestrian pathways will be considered. Also, to eliminate the barrier of Speer Boulevard, I will investigate the use of a bridge or tunnel system, hoping to improve the link with the city.
Views of the downtown skyline (those most dramatic), are to the north and east. Though the foreground is landscaped with trees, the traffic along Speer Boulevard is inescapable. Thus^one's perception in this direction is
muddled. To the north and northwest, the view is of the 19th century brick warehouse buildings of "lower" downtown. The distant mountains can be seen to the west across the playing fields (with the Tivoli Brewery in the foreground) and to the southwest down Lawrence Street. The immediate views of the campus, with the towers of St. Cajetan's and the steeple of St. Elizabeth's dominating the skyline, are to the south and southwest.
The architectural vocabulary of adjacent buildings (with a few exceptions) is quite limited, almost to the point of being mundane. Because of budget restraints and a rigid planning format, the majority of buildings on the Auraria campus are large, two-story, brick curtain-wall structures devoid of color ornament, decoration, or detail. In short, the buildings lack those elements of architecture which serve to break a building down into understandable parts, of which the vi'ewer can relate to. In the case of the Auraria campus, the dialogue, the communication between human and building is reduced to a grunt or groan, if that. Even the old warehouses of lower downtown offer more stimulation. There, the architecture is based on a smaller module (that of the single brick). The structural logic is obvious, openings are well articulated, giving the facades a depth which is enhanced by the play of light and shadow. Comparatively, there is a richness of detailing, color, and texture. The 19th century buildings on campus (Tivoli Brewery, St Cajetan's, St. Elizabeth's, Emmanuel Gallery, and the 9th Street houses) speak for themselves. Elements of these may be used in my solution, but only in an abstract manner.
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Average annual precipitation is a low fifteen and one-half inches, while relative humidity averages 60 percent in the AM and 40 percent in the PM. The altitude and low humidity cause the high diurnal temperature swing (about 30 degrees from day to night).
The high availability of sunshine (70 percent) contributes to excellent active and passive solor heating potential. However, the sun can be especially harsh. For lighting purposes, south-facing glass must be handled with great care (shading devices may be necessary). Shaded exterior areas will be provided, either in the form of a courtyard, trellises, trees, etc. Studio and office space should take advantage of north and east exposures which are complementary with the views analysis.
Winds are another climatic resource that could be used for cooling and ventilation. Mild prevailing breezes are from the south, expecially in the summer. Precipitation is usually carried on "upslope" winds from the east and northeast. The most severe winds come from the northwest, usually in winter and early spring.
Summer precipitation usually occurs in afternoon thunder showers, some of which can be extremely intense.
Hail frequently accompanies these storms and must be considered in the design of windows and skylights.
The Cherry Creek Channel Improvements insure an unimpeded floodway, thus excluding the site from the 100-year flood plain.
The surface geology of the site is characterized by about five feet of unstable man-made fill due to several generations of previous buildings. Below that lies about 15 feet of medium to dense sand and gravel that was deposited by Cherry Creek. Stable claystone bedrock is encountered at depths of 10 20 feet. The water table averages about 13 feet below the surface, but rises in wet years because of the proxmity (200 feet) of Cherry Creek.
The engineer^ report suggests that drilled piers to
the claystone, which has a bearing strength of 30,000 -
60,000 psf would be the preferred construction. For ground floors, either the loose, man-made fill should be excavated for a slab on grade, or else a structural floor system should be used. Because of soil and water problems, basements are not recommended.
Graduate School of Design and Planning
Space and Description:
Arch 50%, LA 20%, Planning 10%
Interiors 15%, Urban Design 5% (flexible)
50 sq. ft./Student + Lockers
Seminar/Jury: 5 spaces @ 500
Combine two into one 1,000 sq. ft.
Audio Visual capacity, tackboards, chalkborads
3 small classrooms/35 students X 20 = 700
combine two into one 1,400
1 large classroom/lecture hall 3,500
full fixed seating in tiers, A/V capacity
20 faculty X 110 2,200
5 directors X 180 900
10 visiting colleagues X 80 800
faculty lounge 250
Administrative Assistant 150
3 Secretaries X 125 375
Sq. Ft. 14,000
Records/Work Room 350
Offices 4 X 100 400
Staff 2 X 125 250
Project Stations 15 X 50 750
Li brary: 3,600
'2 Offices X 125 250
Check-out Desk 500
Stacks, reading area, study tables
Tack boards, moveable partitions
Support Facilities: 9,800
Audio-Visualy/Photo 500 I
Dark Room 800 ?>
Sound Studio 200 -i'T
Model Shop 3,000 I
Research Labs 6 X 250 1,500
Technician Offices 3 X 100 300 T-i
Laminations 200 : - /
Archives 3,000 I
Student Lounge: Kitchenette, Vending Machines Tables, Sofas* Deck 500
Restrooms: Including Showers Handicapped Stall 1,200
Circulation @ 30%: 13,900
Mech @ 19%: / 600
GRAND TOTAL: 60,800 gross square feet
By focusing on the "very important" relationships, one can begin to build a conceptual layout of the building. The studios, which might be considered the heart of the school, need a strong relationship to the jury space, faculty offices support shops, and the lounge. Faculty offices need a close affiliation with classrooms, seminar/jury rooms, and administration. The need for the staff of the Center for Community Design and Development to work closely with the administration is also important.
The library is essential for the the functions of the school, however close proximity is not necessary. In view of its special need for low noise levels, some separation from the mainstream of circulation and activity may be an advantage. The administration is the "front door" of the school since it frequently deals with visitors and contains reception. Consequently, it should be easy to find from the entry.' The same is true for CCDD which is very "outside world" oriented. It needs proximity to the entry and to the administration.
Exhibit space can demonstrate the school's vitality best if close to the entry, or close to the pedestrian mall.
BUILDING CODES and ZONKING REQUIREMENTS
The building falls under the jurisdiction of the Denver Building Code; however, being on state-owned land, it is not subject to city zoning provisions. Minimum lot size, lot to building square foot ratios, property line setback, and off street parking requirements, are not applicable. The Auraria campus has a self-imposed height limit of 55 feet. The site bounded by Lawrence Street, Larimer Street, 12th Street, and Speer Boulevard falls within Fire Zone II. The occupancy clas sification is A-3 (UBC Table 5-A). Construction should be of Type II; steel, concrete, or masonry (sec. 1901). Exterior walls should have a two hour rating, if less than five feet from an adjacent building, or one-hour otherwise. Exterior wall openings are not permitted less than five feet and less than 10 feet. The structural frame must be made of non-combustible materials. Floors must have a one-hour fire
rating (Sec. 1901); roofs, one-hour (Sec. 1906); interior partitions, one-hour (Sec. 1903). Group A occupancies shall be sprinklered throughout. (Table 38-A) Each' floor' shall have at least two exits other than the elevator; therefore two stairs are required (Table 33-A).
Stairs shall be not less than 44 inches wide and shall have a 44 inch landing every 12 feet of vertical travel (Sec. 3305). Stairs and balconies should be equipped with hand rails between 30 inches and 34 inches which extend six inches beyond the end of the stairs, and shall include an intermediate hand rail each 88 inches of width (Sec. 3305). Risers should be at least four inches, but not more than seven and one half inches. Treads should be at least 10 inches wide (Sec. 3305c). Ramps shall be at least 44 inches wide and may not exceed a slope of one to 12 for the handicapped (Sec. 3306). They shall have a landing of at least five feet for every five feet of vertical rise and shall be surfaced with a non-slip material.
Doors shall be at least 32 inches clear width and shall swing 90 degrees in the direction of travel (Sec. 3303). Corridors shall be not less than 44 inches clear width or equal to the occupant load divided by 50 in feet, whichever is greater (Sec. 3304). Distance to the nearest exit shall be not more than 200 feet in a sprinklered building (Sec. 3313). Deadend corridors shall not exceed 20 feet (Sec. 3304).
Vertical openings in floors shall have a one-hour fire rated continuous barrier with openings fire-stopped (Sec.
4305). Exit signs will be installed above exits with at least six inch letters and exit lighting shall be maintained at one-foot-candle or more along the path of egress (Sec. 3312).
Ceilings shall be at least seven feet high (Sec. 3304). Mezzanines are restricted to not more than 33 1/3 percent coverage of a room's area and are limited to one per room (Sec. 1904).
Occupied rooms should have a window area of at least 10 percent of the floor area. Ventilation shall be available
from vents of at least five percent of the floor area or at the rate of 15 cubic feet per minute, including at least five cfm of outside air.
Buildings four stories or more shall have a stairway to the roof (Sec. 3305). Skylights shall be of non-combustible material and set on a four inch curb. The area shall not exceed 100 square feet within the curb for a plastic dome (Sec. 5207).
At least one toilet for each sex shall be provided on each floor including at least one stall accessible by the handicapped for each five floors. Water closets shall be at least 30 inches wide by 48 inches deep, and 60 inches by 60 inches for the handicapped.
Public buildings shall be fully accessible to the handicapped by means of elevator, or by ramps not to exceed a slope of 1:12 (Sec. 3305).
A-5 Denver Inc, Master Plan for the Auraria Higher Education Education Center, Denver, Colorado 1973.
American Institute of Architects, Architectural Graphic Standards, John Wiley and Sons, 7th Edition, New York. 1980
Byrd, Kenneth., Program for a New Facility, "A planning
document for a new facility to house the University of Houston Art and Architecture Departments," 1979.
Caudill, William Wayne., "Toward Better School Design."
New York, F.W. Dodge Corp. (c. 1934).
Chaing, Willie T., "University of Colorado, Graduate School /
of Design and Planning: Thesis Project" Willie T. Chiang. 1980
Ching, Francis, Architecture: Form, Space & Order, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company. New York, 1979.
Collins, Michael., "The Adaptive Re-Use of Tivoli Brewery: to the Graduate School of Design & Planning, University of Colorado, Denver." Michael Collins, 1980.
Denver Building Code : 1982
Engelhardt, Nickolaus,Louis., "Complete Guide for Planning New Schools." West Nyack, N.Y., Parker Pub. Co. 1970.
Lam, William M.C., "Perception and Lighting as Formgivers for Architecture" New York : McGraw Hill, c. 1977.
Lotus International #31, New York
Publications Inc., 1981.
Macmillan, E. Rand., A New Building for the Graduate School of of Design and Planning, University of Colorado at Denver, Auraria Campus. E. Rand MacMillan, 1980
McHugh, Robert C. "A Design Services Building for Group Practice in Architecture" Robert C. McHugh, 1982.
Prosser, John., "Studio Program for a New College of Environmental Design," July, 1980.
U.S. Weather Bureau, "Standard Statistical Climatic Summary for Denver, Colorado." 1979
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As was stated in the introduction, the issue central to my thesis process was that of
"contexturalism." A favorite comment of the architectural critic concerns the failure or success
of the building in question to conform to its surroundings; in other words, to blend in with its
neighborhood. I asked myself if this was actually necessary, using the analogy of a work of
aft. The Mona Lisa, for instance, remains a masterpiece whether it is in the Louvre or in
someone's bedroom. Why is it necessary, then, for a building to depend on its surroundings?
For example, the Capital building in Denver, in its location, is perhaps as successful as Palladio's
Villa Rotunda in Italy. A building can indeed stand on its own as an object (Le Corbusier's Villa
Savoye, for instance), but its beauty and value as a human environment is enhanced by its setting.
If one looks again at the Capital building in Denver, one senses the power and drama, not only
of. the building itself, but of its relation to the park, amphitheatres, collonade and municipal /
buildings at the other end of the complex. A symbiotic relationship has been established with each part inherently stronger due to its participation with the "whole."
My feeling regarding the Auraria campus was simply that there was no campus, no underlying and obvious order and no central unifying space. Therefore, one of my goals was to create a campus, one with logic and order, urban yet somewhat traditional. The closing of Lawrence Street to auto traffic offers a strong opportunity for the development of this unifying order. In fact, the campus' master plan regards Lawrence Street as the pedestrian "main street" of campus.
My first reaction was that a building was needed at the end of Lawrence Street (adjacent to Speer Boulevard) to define a "quad" and to establish an organizing axis throughout the campus. Three fundamental concepts that were explored included (1) building as a gateway, (2) building surrounding a courtyard and, (3) building as a wall. My proposed solution is a composite of these three ideas.
In my thesis introduction, I stated my concern for two issues (apart from the discussion of contexturalism). These ideas included (1) the building's response to the city as well as the
campus, and (2) the building's response to "interstitial" spaces. The gesture to the city, to the architectural profession, to the public at large, is made by virtue of the building being a "gateway" to the campus and vice versa. Interstitial spaces have been successfully created on two scales. One scale is the formation of the grand campus "quad" and the second is the more intimate entry forecourt to both the Lecture Hall and the Main Building. My initial inclination was that spaces between buildings are as important as the buildings themselves. My solution supports this feeling.
As an addendum, I would like to comment on the nature of the thesis process. The importance and value lies in the exploration of an idea or set of ideas, the analysis of concepts and issues germane to the study of architecture. Admittedly, my stairs do not adhere to code requirements and my corridors may seem excessive. The importance, however, is in the architectural expression, the creation of space, the manipulation of light and the experience of the user. Successful architecture appeals to the emotions and to the spirit. This is the search I-have chosen. ,
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