Colorado State University’s governing board today voted to endorse the university’s architectural plans for renovating and remodeling the old Fort Collins High School building into the University Center for the Arts. The Center for the Arts will provide a vibrant learning environment, a showcase for the arts and a cultural resource for the community.
The Board of Governors of the Colorado State University System (formerly the State Board of Agriculture) voted unanimously in favor of the plans. Colorado State sought approval for its plans from the governing board following objections to the design from the Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Board. The Planning and Zoning Board objected to the university’s plan to build a concert hall on the west side of the former gymnasium, a facility that was added to the 1920s-era high school in 1953. While the plan does obscure the gymnasium façade, the architecture and building materials are designed to be consistent with the original 1924 facility – the building widely recognized by the community and cherished as a community landmark.
Under state law, public entities are asked to coordinate planning activities with each other, but the Board of Governors has the final authority on all decisions related to the university. Today’s approval from the Board of Governors enables the university to move forward with its plans.
"As independent entities, the university, city, county and school district work together on a daily basis," said Gerry Bomotti, vice president for Administrative Services at Colorado State. "Our agreements are many and significant, but in the rare cases where we disagree, we do so respectfully, recognizing each organization’s authority and responsibility."
A similar process was used by the county when approving the county project in downtown Fort Collins after objections had been raised at the Planning and Zoning Board review.
"We’ve worked extensively with community groups, architects, educators and students to develop plans that would enhance the original 1924 structure," said Brian Chase, director of Facilities Management at Colorado State. "The design and materials for the concert hall are consistent with the look of the old Fort Collins High columns and tower.
"The orientation of the addition ensures functionality and an appealing entrance. The architect selected for this project has extensive experience in working with historic buildings. The plan honors the original structure, not only through continuing its function as an educational facility, but also through thoughtful, integrated architecture."
The concert hall is part of the $27 million project which will include restoration and repair of the original 1924 facility and expansion of the 183,000-square-foot building by 28,830 square feet. The facility will include classrooms, rehearsal space and a 300-seat theater. Construction on the 500-seat concert hall will begin early next year.
The university already has planted flower gardens and completed an underpass connecting the main campus to the future University Center for the Arts – both features designed to highlight and enhance the main 1924 portion of the facility. These enhancements were part of the overall plan to redevelop the old Fort Collins High site into the University Center for the Arts. While the old Fort Collins High School served the community for about 70 years from 1924 to 1995, Colorado State University has many buildings that have served the institution for more than 100 years and plans to make the University Center for the Arts an important and permanent part of the campus.