Project Spotlight: CSU Spur

Project Spotlight
Denver, Colorado

CSU Spur is a three-building campus at Colorado State University – the first vertical construction to be completed on the new National Western Center in Denver, Colorado. This project is strongly aligned with JE Dunn’s vision: We exist to enrich lives through inspired people and places.

“Out of all the projects I’ve worked on in my career, I’ve not seen one that has been so beneficially impactful to the community,” says JE Dunn Group Manager Andrew Gilstrap. “Spur supports education and research in animal/human bond and food and water resources, as well as provides assistance to those within the community with disabilities and creates opportunities for local small business to work with CSU and others to grow and improve.”

The three buildings are Vida Animal Health, Terra, and Hydro.

Vida Animal Health is a 130,000-square-foot facility focused on animal health, accommodating affordable veterinary health services for household pets and highly specialized equine services including physical therapy for horses and therapy for those whose mental health benefits from therapeutic contact with horses.

Terra is a 59,000-square-foot facility that concentrates on food production research and education. Five levels of laboratory, research, and classroom space are animated by ever-changing exhibits and the ability for the public to interact directly with professors, instructors, students, and many forms of agricultural processes.

Hydro is a four-story 125,000-square-foot building that is all about water research and water rights legislation. Fully interactive spaces include laboratories and classrooms, theater space, and exhibits on Colorado’s watersheds, dams, reservoirs, and the distribution thereof.

The Hydro and Terra buildings are connected to each other via a sky bridge between buildings over National Western Drive. Early in design, JE Dunn helped the design teams and owner with a design solution that has the Terra building fed from the Hydro building central utility plant located on the Hydro roof. This was a significant design enhancement that allowed for energy efficiency savings and up-front cost savings on the project.

All buildings also connect to the National Western Center central utility plant, which is the nation’s largest wastewater heat recovery system, providing heat to all three of the buildings. This required additional coordination with another contractor working on campus.

The Vida building is unique in that it contains the southern extension of the Temple Grandin Equine Center and a state-of-the-art equine sports medicine center (ESMC). The ESMC includes above ground and underwater equine treadmills, a vibration plate, multiple solariums, and an above ground equine spa.

Rising to the Challenges

The project had three separate design teams for each of the facilities, with one contractor, one owner, and one owner’s representative firm. In addition, while the vertical construction of Spur was being completed, horizontal infrastructure work, such as utilities and roadways, was being completed by multiple other contractors directly outside of our lot lines. Third-party coordination was also required with multiple contractors, the State of Colorado, and the City and County of Denver.
Two of the three project sites were significantly delayed due to asbestos and underground obstructions in the building footprint. This put a substantial strain on the project schedule and the owner’s goals of finishing the projects in advance of the National Western Stock Show, a large event each year in Denver that brings in 700,000 visitors to the National Western Center. The JE Dunn team responded to this incredibly by helping mitigate the impact and get the facilities open in time for the owner’s end goals.
CSU Spur won ENR Mountain States Higher Education project of the year and ENR Mountain States Overall best project in 2023. It also won the Silver Award at the AGC of Colorado ACE Awards in the large project category in 2023. Amongst the construction awards received, it has won numerous engineering and design awards as well.
In addition to the long-term impact of this project, the successful delivery of this project was instrumental in JE Dunn now building the single largest project in Colorado State University’s history: the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital Expansion and Renovation, which started in February 2024.