JE Dunn Completes CU Denver Student Housing and Learning Commons Project

JE Dunn Construction recently joined the University of Colorado Denver, Stantec, and other members of the design-build team to celebrate the delivery of the brand-new CU Denver City Heights Residence Hall and Learning Commons project. Construction on the project started in December 2019 and despite the impacts and challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was completed on time. The building is officially ready for incoming first-year university students to occupy the space and move in on August 18.  The grand opening and ribbon cutting took place on August 12 in front of the new City Heights Residence Hall and Learning Commons.  

The University of Colorado Denver has been operating independently since 1973 and combines research and accessible education in the heart of downtown Denver. Serving more than 15,000 students, the University is known for providing quality education at an exceptional value.  This 181,000-square-foot, 7-story, 270-unit student housing facility includes approximately 555 beds along with dining and a learning commons facility. It is comprised of two wings that are connected vertically by internal communal spaces scaled to encourage student interaction between floors. The dining hall will offer rotating food stations as well as meal plans for students. The Residence Hall and Learning Commons are connected through a sunny courtyard that provides a gathering area for students and a connection between the new building and other campus buildings such as the Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center and the Tivoli Quad. The residential tower has floor-to-ceiling windows offering students exceptional views of the mountains and downtown Denver. The City Heights Residence Hall is pursuing a LEED Gold rating and includes a green roof that features five beehives to support the campus’ pollinator habitat. 

The team worked together from the beginning stages to communicate their project purpose statement to stakeholders and onsite workers: “CU Denver strives to provide an affordable education that honors the core values of diversity and fosters the culture of inclusion. The First-Year Student Housing and Learning Commons will be a contribution to the CU Denver community that nurtures student success by providing an environment that is healthy, vibrant, and supportive for students to live, learn and thrive.”   

This purpose statement holds true as this facility will be a communal heart for first-year students, with a strong emphasis on student life, while being conducive to academics and research. Historically, the University of Colorado Denver has been known as a commuter campus, previously, only having one other residence hall, Lynx Crossing. This is the first, first-year student housing facility on the campus and will introduce community and co-curricular experiences.   

“For CU Denver, City Heights is more than a residence hall; it’s a game-changer,” says CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks. “Studies show that students who live on campus their first year are likelier to stay in school, perform better, and feel more connected to their institution, faculty, and fellow students.”  

“We are honored to be part this impactful project for the University that enhances their ability to provide an affordable higher education experience for their students,” says Josh Daniel, senior project manager at JE Dunn Construction. 

This is the second project that JE Dunn Construction and Stantec have teamed up for at the University. In early 2020, the team delivered the University of Colorado Denver Business School Addition, a 16,461-square-foot 3-story university and classroom addition that included a structural infill and tenant improvement of the courtyard of the Business School located at 14th and Lawrence in downtown Denver. The project added a 300-plus seat event space, two large classrooms, a catering kitchen, an auditorium, and a business incubator space collectively known as the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship. 

Photo courtesy of JE Dunn

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