Regents approve new $82.5 million aerospace building at CU Boulder set to begin construction this fall

Friday June 16, 2017 0 comments Tags: Boulder, CU Boulder, Bobby Braun, Ann Smead, Michael Byram, Lockheed Martin, Penina Axelrad

BOULDER -- The University of Colorado Boulder is set to begin construction this fall of a new 139,000-square-foot aerospace engineering building complete with an indoor flight environment for testing unmanned aerial systems and roof design with sight lines needed to track satellites.CU_logoUSE_1

The $82.5 million project was approved by the CU Board of Regents Thursday after first being conceived in 2008 as an addition to the current Engineering Center. The new building, to be constructed on the East campus, is slated for completion in July 2019 -- when the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences will move in.

“This is a watershed moment, not just for CU aerospace, but for our entire college, the university and the state of Colorado,” said Bobby Braun, dean of engineering.

“CU Boulder is already recognized as a national leader in aerospace, and this state-of-the-art facility will take us to the next level. This facility will be a beacon of innovation for the students, researchers and industries of the future.”

In addition to providing world-class learning spaces, the new building will group together aerospace engineering’s six main research clusters in a way that facilitates greater collaboration between students and faculty, CU said. 

The facility will include a 200-seat auditorium, distance-learning-equipped classrooms, faculty offices and spaces for graduate students. It will also include space modeled after the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, an award-winning, hands-on learning environment at the Engineering Center that has proven crucial to student success.

CU said the facility will help accommodate the rapid growth experienced by the aerospace program in recent years. Combined undergraduate and graduate enrollment grew from 647 in fall 2011 to 946 in fall 2016.

The rest of the College of Engineering and Applied Science will also benefit, CU said, thanks to the collaborative spaces and interdisciplinary endeavors that the building will foster between aerospace, mechanical and electrical engineers, as well as the college’s mathematicians and computer scientists.

CU said the college is already well on its way toward achieving its capital campaign fundraising goal for the project, thanks in part to a generous gift earlier this year from Ann Smead and Michael Byram as well as a sponsorship by industry partner Lockheed Martin.

The new building will be located along Discovery Drive between the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Complex (SEEC) and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics’ (LASP) Space Science Building.

The site is also just a short walk from the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy and LASP’s Space Technology Building, helping to create a synergistic hub of space-related programming on East Campus.

“This new building shows our state’s commitment to growing its aerospace industry in a serious way,” said Penina Axelrad, chair of the aerospace engineering sciences department.

“Colorado already has the nation’s second-largest aerospace economy, and this flagship facility will strengthen CU’s status as a major hub for innovation in this industry.”

With approval by the CU Boulder Design Review Board already in hand, architects are now wrapping up final drawings. Bids from potential general contractors are expected to be returned in mid-September, with groundbreaking anticipated for November.