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Dining hall anchors new Center for Community

Center for Community Building, UCBPhoto by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado
The new Center for Community building at the University
of Colorado at Boulder.
The nearly completed Center for Community at the University of Colorado at Boulder is set to open for students this fall.

The center will be home base for 12 student support offices, including Career Services, Center for Multicultural Affairs, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of International Education and the Office of Victim Assistance. The student services offices will open by the end of October.

The building's anchor: a 900-seat, street-market-style dining hall offering freshly prepared food in nine specialty dining stations, including sushi, Italian, Brazilian and Persian dishes. The facility – which opened Tuesday, Aug. 17, when students began returning to CU residence halls – will serve nearly 4,000 meals daily and close to 1 million per year.

"While the Center for Community will be used by thousands of students every week for vital student services, it also is designed as a place where they can come together to eat and socialize in a comfortable setting that highlights a wealth of cultures," said Julie Wong, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Preparing and serving thousands of meals under one roof, while also providing a one-stop shop for student services, were driving factors in the building's design, according to Philip Simpson, assistant director of CU-Boulder's Facilities Planning office.

"By consolidating many food services at one site, instead of operating and maintaining multiple facilities, the campus is able to control production costs and provide more venues designed to support the needs of a diverse campus population," Simpson said.

This consolidation of food preparation and service will allow CU to shut down at least two other campus dining facilities and reduce production needs at others. The consolidation also makes it easier for students to conduct business because student services from throughout campus are in one location, according to Simpson.

The $84.4 million facility, which includes 183,000 gross square feet of program space, and an additional 140,000 gross square feet of parking space, is being financed through bonds and will be repaid through auxiliary revenue. Parking fees, housing and dining revenue, as well as private fundraising will pay for the building.

No tax or tuition dollars were used for Center for Community construction and there was no net increase in room and board rates because the student services offices in residence halls will be converted back to housing for students.

How potential students view campus amenities is an important element to the success of any campus, according to Amy Beckstrom, director of Dining Services.

"This dining center, which builds community by bringing a new cultural dining experience to the CU-Boulder campus, offers our busy students a single location where they can utilize the resources of several student affairs support services," Beckstrom said.

One of the major upgrades for students is the new Career Services office. Currently located in Willard Hall, the interview and counseling rooms were useable but outdated and cramped, according to Lisa Severy, director of the Career Services office at CU-Boulder.

"We graduate a class of students every year who excel academically and are leaders in a diverse range of interests," Severy said. "We currently showcase that pool of talent that will impact our state, country and the world, in the basement of an older building. This new facility will allow us to showcase our students and graduates in a space that reflects their accomplishments and potential, and that will be more pleasing to the professional needs of recruiters as well."

The Center for Community was designed and is being built to be energy- and water-efficient with a minimum carbon footprint. Compared with similar-sized buildings, the Center for Community will be 20 to 25 percent more energy- and water-efficient. It also was built with the goal of receiving at least a LEED Gold Certification, which it is on track to achieve.

The Center for Community: Floor by Floor

  • Underground
    A one-level, 375-space underground parking garage will be used primarily by faculty, staff and students with parking permits, but also will be open for event parking after 5 p.m. and on weekends.
  • First Floor
    The BuffOne Card office, Dining Services offices, a retail bakery counter and a late-night Italian-style food hub are on the first floor. The first level also will have 50 additional parking spaces.
  • Second Floor
    The second floor includes nine specialty dining stations – Italian, Brazilian, garden fresh produce, Latin/Mexican, sushi, Asian, chef's choice, Persian and dessert – and a grab-n-go restaurant. Disability Services also is on the second floor.
  • Third Floor
    Career Services, International Education, Multicultural Affairs, the J.D. Abrams Student Cultural Center Lounge and the Housing and Dining Services offices are on the third floor.
  • Fourth Floor
    The offices of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the Dean of Students, Counseling and Psychological Services, Victim Assistance, Veterans Affairs, Ombuds, Student Academic Affairs, GLBT Resource Center, Parent Relations, University of Colorado Foundation and the Office of Pre-Collegiate Outreach are on the fourth floor.
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