Academic office building opens, some facets still to be completed

Sept. 8,2014

Audrey Jensen
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The new Academic Office Building located behind Columbine Hall opened Aug. 18. It is five stories tall with 112 offices for professors from several different departments.

“Our goal is to keep classes small. For every 30- 59 students, you have to add another faculty member. We need to accommodate faculty to do [well] at teaching,” said executive director of Facility Services Gary Reynolds.

Although there are still faculty members that share offices in other buildings, the new offices have given some faculty more space to communicate with each other and meet with students.

The departments with offices in the Academic Office Building are Graduate Affairs, Political Science, Economics, School of Publics Affairs, Sociology, Women’s and Ethnic Studies and Communication.

“We had to build quickly to meet a need of the university,” Reynolds added. “We didn’t completely accomplish our goal of getting faculty out of doubling offices, but we have made good progress.”

The total budget for this building was $14.5 million, however, project manager for construction Stan Rovira did not know how much they actually spent, and was unable to specify what was left to be done.

“A substantial portion of the funding is the University bonded money, so it is funded from UCCS itself,” Reynolds said.

The whole process of the building took 21 months.

Women’s and Ethnic Studies professor Janice Gould said it is too soon tell how the community of professors has improved, but has enjoyed working in the building so far.

“The conference rooms in Columbine had no windows, but the conference room here is much more open, bright and light. Once we get art in here, it will be more engaging,” Gould said.

Rovira said there have been leaks and minor issues in the building, but until the duration of the upcoming four seasons pass, he will not know of any major structural issues.

According to Reynolds, this new building is considered to be 42 percent more energy efficient than a typical building that size would be.

“This building does not use a traditional cooling system. It was designed to shade certain parts of the building during the summer and with all of the light coming through the windows, we are able to control the [indoor] lighting very closely,” Reynolds said.

The fifth floor of the building was added after the original design.

“We were asked to explore adding a fifth story, we roughed out a fifth story and built it, but the department wasn’t decided until after we built it,” said Rovira.

Communications is now on the fifth floor.

Features of this building include multi-colored carpets, large windows in every room and hallway, multiple lounge chairs, tables, cushioned benches and desks attached to walls.

“We created a very nice work environment and a good environment for students. We tried to create more interesting corridors with informal waiting spaces so students don’t have the feeling of walking down a long, dark hall or don’t have to wait for professors by leaning against the walls,” Rovira said.

The building also has two showers on the first floor, a kitchen area on each floor, a fifth-story deck and conference rooms looking over the campus and Pikes Peak.

Future plans include building a bridge walkway to another building they hope to connect to the Academic Office Building.