Phase 1 – Capital Plan revealed at the heart of DU

Photo: The University is making a bold architectural statement, breaking ground on a Alumni and Career Achievement Center, designed to open the center of the university to students, alumni and visitors.

About a year ago, LetsGoDU reported on a 140 million dollar capital project portfolio to transform the DU campus to align with the 2025 Strategic Plan for the University. Phase 1 has already started with the demolition of homes along high street for first-year student residence halls and community commons. Phase II, also discussed in a prior LetsGoDU article is a transformation of the entryway into the campus along between Buchtel Boulevard and Asbury, along University Boulevard. The Phase II redevelopment will include a hotel, retail, and graduate student housing and will not be initiated for several more years.

Now, LetsGoDU can reveal details about the design of the Phase 1 projects. Today, we will cover the University Career Achievement Center which will also act as the career center for students as well as an alumni hub for the University. Tomorrow, we will reveal details of the new Student Union and a new first-year student residence hall.

Leo Block Two
The Leo Block building will be razed this summer and replaced with the University Alumni and Career Achievement Center.

The University Alumni and Career Achievement Center is going to be constructed where the current Leo Block Building sits, at the middle of the campus, on the south side of Asbury adjacent to Driscoll Green and across the center from the Ritchie Center. Designed with input from stakeholders and teams, the new facility is intentionally designed to break from the more traditional structures on campus and create a comfortable, professional open ‘feel’ for alumni, employers and students. And the west-facing orientation intentionally opens up to the engagement areas to the mountains and Colorado sunshine and light with an array of windows in a horseshoe capturing light from the north, south and west.

Students will meet with career staff on the second and third floors and interview with employers, while the first floor and rooftop are likely to be used by everyone. One intriguing aspect of the location and design of the facility for alumni is its close proximity to athletics facilities: the Ritchie Center is across the street. The facility could serve as an ideal meeting place for alumni before and after games. The facility will also serve as an ideal meeting space for Alumni weekend, homecoming, and other university sponsored events. For alumni, this building should become the ideal ‘go to’ place on campus and is uniquely suited to host a number of events.

The four story structure (including the rooftop), is designed to accommodate engagement space, meeting rooms, and support staff support for alumni and student services. The west side spaces of the building are for meeting and engagement while the east portion of the building is for staff, offices, and meeting space. The landscaping in the front will open the center up to Driscoll Green and pedestrian traffic will have easy access to the outdoor spaces and entrance from either Driscoll Green or Asbury. The first floor is designed with wood and glass to create a ‘Colorado feel’ with glass and an open patio area for events and engagement.

The rooftop, the 4th floor, will serve a dual purpose. It will offer west facing-views and plantings for building staff, students and visitors to meet and relax. Also, the roof will contain a solar array with an innovative heat exchange tower along Asbury to contribute to a drastically reduced carbon footprint for the structure.  The roof will have plantings and landscaping as well.

View from Asbury West bound
This West facing view from Asbury  shows the the exhaust tower neatly incorporated into the facilities design.
Leo Block 3
The current west view of Leo Block off Asbury


This is a major step in developing a more professional Career center for students as the University focuses on a value proposition which leads to meaningful post-graduate employment. As for alumni, this gives us a place to meet and engage in a closer way with the University of Denver.

Tomorrow, we will share the new plans for the first year residential hall and community commons on High Street and the Student Commons (student union) projects in what is now the north side of the Driscoll Student Center.

12 thoughts on “Phase 1 – Capital Plan revealed at the heart of DU”

  1. More hideous, modern architecture. Just what our neighborhood needs. 😦 I’m both an alum and a homeowner in the neighborhood.


    1. I appreciate your POV. I live in the neighborhood, too but like it. It’s definitely a change from the more traditional buildings on campus. Glad to hear you thoughts.


  2. The three new buildings that are going up on campus (the career center, the new dorm and the new community commons (e.g student union) are all very deliberate departures from the Ritchie era buildings that went up in the 1990s and 2000s.

    Ritchie’s building strategy was to build credilbiity for DU after the bad financial era in the late 70s and 80s. He did it by building modern buildings with a conservative, collegiate gothic look (think Ivy league), and buildings that would create a matching campus (copper, towers, etc) that would scream permanence, richness and look worthy of the price tag that DU had to charge to climb out of the hole it was in. These were buildings that are designed to appeal to the full pay, conservative students that DU needed to survive, and to show the Denver community was a prestigious player again.

    Flash forward to today. Chopp’s DU isn’t trying to appeal to those rich families anymore. Her idea of architecture (and of DU) is much more “inclusive” –no more towers, copper or trying to impress rich people. Her desired look is much more about informality, approachability, light, and sustainability. She’s trying to make DU appeal to a much wider swath of humanity by being less about prestige. She doesn’t care if the buildings match the existing campus look. She’s trying to informalize the university by building buildings that look informal and up-to-the minute, like most of the new buildings in the city.

    The reality is that that DU is still a 70% tuition-dependent school that still needs the full-pay families to pay the freight for the most of the more diverse audiences that DU wants to attract.

    It will be interesting see if the more modern look will work or not…


  3. Like the idea, don’t like the design. Campuses from TCU to Harvard have a high degree of architectural consistency throughout the campus and are styled in a way that can stand the test of time. This looks like an art museum or something. Stick with the designs that have been working. Christ.


  4. In the last 20 plus years the school architect (now retired) did a fantastic job designing all of our new buildings. They all were separate and distinct from one another but at the same time blended together to a common theme.

    These three don’t fit. Bring him back.


    1. That’s what you say now until something else has you up in arms. They probably will change the type of tortilla chip they use for nachos and you’ll say you’re spending your money elsewhere!

      Liked by 1 person

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