The University of Denver recently celebrated the groundbreaking of its new Burwell Center for Career Achievement. Designed by Lake|Flato Architects, along with Denver-based design partner Shears Adkins Rockmore (SA+R) in collaboration with Landscape Architect Didier Design Studio, the milestone marks an important step toward transforming the campus into a gathering place for the extended DU community.
Situated at a key nexus between the campus’s traditional core and its growing urban edge, the new 23,000 square foot Burwell Center for Career Achievement will be a campus hub focused on student career development, employer engagement and alumni activities. A tower stair will serve as a beacon and an executive lounge will provide views to the campus, the adjacent city core, and the nearby Rocky Mountains, connecting visitors to the neighboring landscape. Designed as a LEED Platinum building, the Center is anticipated to use 70% less energy than comparable university buildings.
“The collaboration throughout this project has been extremely impactful. Early in the project a series of integrated design workshops, engaging hundreds of people from the DU community, established a social contract for the building. This informed every decision we made – it allowed the entire team to design a project that we are all proud of and that will serve the DU community for generations to come.” Dan Craig, AIA, Project Architect for SA+R and DU Alum (’99).
The building and its surrounding site are focused on creating “sticky spaces,” areas that encourage users to linger and interact. The ground floor is designed to connect with the surrounding landscape, linking the Center to DU’s academic core and its future campus additions. As one moves up through the building, interactions gradually become more intentional and focused. The ground floor encourages serendipitous encounters around the sticky spaces, whereas the upper floors are focused on coaching, interviews, and career advising.
“Coming out of our integrated design workshops, it was clear that the DU community was committed to a sustainable and environmentally responsible project. This ethic led to the selection of mass timber using the most sustainable forestry practices for the building’s structural system, which will be exposed throughout. The result will be a beautiful, biophilic space that harmonizes with the natural and built context. On the outside, photovoltaic panels are expressed as part of the building’s roof form, clearly demonstrating the DU commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Ryan Yaden, AIA, Project Architect for Lake|Flato.
Planned for a Fall 2020 opening, the project has been led by the design team at Lake|Flato, with SA+R providing local architectural support, regulatory insight, and Construction Administration facilitation. Didier Design Studio has led the landscape design and PCL Construction provided pre-construction services and will now lead the construction process.
“Working in such a beautiful landscape and campus allowed us to concentrate on encouraging meaningful experiences that connect the wider DU community to this special place. We focused on natural materials and forms that bring people together, always testing solutions to make sure they encouraged meetings and interactions. We hope the result is so much more than a building, but in fact a place where multiple future generations can connect and forge a life of purpose,” said Andrew Herdeg, FAIA, Partner for Lake|Flato.