New Alpine Valley buildings boast sustainability, community

Sept. 7, 2015

Evan Musick
[email protected]

The newest duo of UCCS dormitories for first-year residents, LaPlata and Cucharas, are in their first year of operation, adding to the renamed Alpine Valley housing village.

Alpine Valley includes the existing Crestone, Antero and Shavano buildings as well as the two new buildings. Crestone and Antero are upperclassmen housing while Shavano is also for first year experience students and upperclassmen.

The floorplans in the two newest additions, LaPlata and Cucharas, are similar to the existing buildings. San Juan, the third new building, is expected to open in fall 2016.

“We have all the same types of rooms,” said Ralph Giese, director of Residence Life and Housing.

But there is one new room plan.

“The new room type that’s here, are the two singles. There’s two single bedrooms that share a private bathroom,” said Giese.

In contrast to Summit Village, the shared common room is no longer present. Instead, each individual floor has a common space.

“We developed floor lounges, where people can actually gather,” Giese said.

Giese said this was meant to foster a sense of community, which he considers especially important for first-year students.

“It needs to become the floor living room, rather than all the old common rooms, which continue to separate people.”

These common floor lounges will have 60-inch TVs, and wide views of the surrounding Colorado Springs area.

LaPlata now contains the mailroom for all of Alpine Valley. Cucharas will feature new classrooms for the Gateway Program Seminar, the renamed Freshman Seminar classes.

“It’s really the new Breckenridge. It’s seminar rooms. There are all classrooms on the first floor,” Giese said.

These new classrooms offer smartboards that span the entire wall.

In accordance with UCCS’ standard of constructing buildings in an environmentally sound manner, LaPlata, Cucharas and San Juan are being built to LEED Gold standard. All new buildings on campus are required to meet LEED Gold standard.

A touch screen kiosk in the main lobby will allow anyone to see energy usage statistics.

According to Giese, the LEED process includes examining a myriad of items from what glue was used to what heating and cooling systems are in place and examining what construction waste was hauled away. Although Platinum is the best rating, and can be done for a residence hall, the cost is steep.

The occupancy date for La Plata and Cucharas had been Aug. 1, but Colorado’s wet season pushed the date back.

“That’s largely due to all the rain we had in May and June,” said Megan Bell, executive director of Community and Learning Initiatives.

This led to occupancy taking place a week before residents moved in. Bell said the priority was to complete living spaces, and leave the office spaces until later.

Ensuring the Roaring Fork dining facility was also completed was a priority as new students needed to be fed as well as housed.

“Maslow. Gotta meet those basic needs first,” Giese said.

Once San Juan is constructed, a total of 515 beds will be available. Currently, between LaPlata and Cucharas, there are 292 beds. There are 1,415 beds in total on campus.

Giese also mentioned there are plans to have a turf volleyball court along with several adult swings in the vicinity of Alpine Valley.