Prison for students: Let’s take a look at Columbine Hall

Feb. 15, 2016

Joe Hollmann
jhollma3@uccs.edu

Columbine Hall, one of the largest classroom buildings on campus, is one of the primary structures for many Letters, Arts and Sciences students and faculty.

Situated on the west part of campus, it houses a computer lab, the communication and writing centers, and a couple of really good vending machines on the bottom floor.

Yet, this building consists of massive architectural flaws that bug me to the core.

As a transfer student from the University of Colorado at Denver where I studied architecture, we were taught to think critically about the designs of buildings, and Columbine Hall fails miserably on many fronts.

Let’s start with the classrooms. This building might just have the best view of the city and the mountains in the entirety of Colorado Springs.

It has an unobstructed view of Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, downtown and probably New Mexico if you looked hard enough.

So what did the people who built Columbine do with this incredible view? They decided to not put a single window in a classroom.

Zero.

They built a prison for college students.

Maybe they thought that beautiful views of our city and natural light would be poisonous to our learning experience, more so than artificially lit prison cells where we are chained down by chairs attached to their desks.

Let’s give all the professors and their offices room-wide windows to help them work, think and wonder. But the students? Not a chance.

Instead, they decided to put windowed-alcoves away from the classrooms, which on any given day at any given time you can visit, and find next to no one utilizing.

These alcove hallways on the very edge of the building get no traffic as they are so far removed from the main hallway that unless you are aimlessly wandering on one of your breaks or have a class in one of the hidden rooms next to them, you probably don’t even know they exist.

Switching gears, let’s shift focus to the east stairwell. The dreaded east stairwell.

This four-story structure is supposed to aid in the traffic flow of students going from floor to floor. Instead, the intersection produces more awkward encounters on a daily basis than high school reunions have in their entire existence.

The doorways to the stairwell are only big enough for one person to go through at a time and the doors are situated so abnormally it makes it difficult to see if someone is coming in or going out.

This combination of poor planning and tiny doors makes it a nightmare for anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves using the stairwell during the time allotted between classes.

There are also problems with the tiny common areas on the the west end of the second and third floors, where a total of eight people can use couches and chairs. The area is so closed off no one ever feels comfortable even going in.

There is the massive vaulted entrance foyer, where a huge area of space goes unused.

There is the confusion of entering the building and finding yourself on the second floor without using stairs.

There are the terribly fake columns laced on the outside of the entrance, childishly hinting at classical architecture while the rest of the building resembles more of a cardboard box than a Greek temple.

The list goes on, but the point is this: for an institution that prides itself in critical thinking and innovation, Columbine Hall stands apart in architectural illiteracy and missed opportunities, existing only as a building with bland classrooms.

Future building planners of UCCS please, take note.