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The restoration of the Industrial Sciences Building on the Fort Collins campus maintained almost all of the original construction in order to preserve the historical significance of the building while providing modern learning spaces for today’s construction management students. (Photo courtesy of CSU)


Last week Colorado State University unveiled a new building originally constructed in 1883. One of the oldest buildings on campus underwent a $5-million restoration, thanks to 170 private donors.

The former Industrial Sciences Building, now called the Preconstruction Center, was the collective work of Colorado construction firms, industry organizations and student groups that donated funds and in-kind support to refurbish the building room by room. The renovation features state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms, lecture halls, a study lounge, technology center and public spaces. The building is part of the construction management program at the university.

“This unique renovation project allowed the university to preserve an historic campus landmark in dire need of renovation,” said Tony Frank, CSU president. “It’s impressive that 170 people and companies saw a common need to preserve this space and make it beautiful and useful to our faculty and students once again. Their support and collaboration is more than just an investment in a building—it’s an investment in the long-term competitiveness of one of the nation’s top academic programs in construction management. We’re grateful to them for their generous contributions and their extraordinary dedication to CSU and this program.”

The project maintained almost all of the original construction in order to preserve the historical significance of the building. One of several strategies to keep the building green, for example, was to refinish the original oak flooring. In addition, the building has become a unique learning environment, with windows into the interior walls and exposed infrastructure so that construction management students can see the inner workings of the building as they’re learning building construction.

Some new additions also helped to bring the building up to standards of the 21st Century, such as the addition of roof insulation, which had not existed in the building before the refurbishment, low-flow fixtures and automatic faucets. Where carpet was installed, it was made from recycled materials, as were new ceiling tiles.

“The Preconstruction Center is now a showplace for the campus in several ways,” said Mostafa Khattab, construction management department head. “It is the landmark it has always been, and now a learning environment and space that was badly needed to relieve cramped conditions in some of our classrooms.”

The best information available suggests that this project is a one-of-a-kind in the nation in terms of the number of collaborating businesses supporting a construction project on a college campus. While the renovation was funded by private donations, the University Facility Fee Advisory Board, the University Technology Fee Advisory Board and students in the College of Applied Human Sciences, provided furniture – tables, chairs and desks—and the computers and equipment in the building. The groups contributed from $60,000 to $250,000 each.

Ed Haselden, president of Haselden Construction in Centennial and a member of the Board of Governors of the CSU system, led with the initial donation to renovate a classroom and laboratory space. Renovated rooms are named to recognize support from construction industry donors. The Haselden Preconstruction Learning Lab will provide students in capstone classes with experiences that prepare them to be industry-ready before internships or employment.

Saunders Construction Inc., another Denver contractor, renovated an old laboratory space into the preconstruction lecture hall. PCL Construction of Denver committed funds for the Laurel Street entrance lobby and adjoining classroom. Hensel Phelps Construction of Greeley named the northwest classroom, and G.E. Johnson Construction Co. of Colorado Springs and Denver sponsored updates to the lobby and entrance off CSU’s historic Oval. Gerald H. Phipps supported a student study room in the heart of the building.

The second-floor student computer lab was sponsored by Kiewit, whose gift is being provided by the corporation, its foundation and individual employees, many of whom are CSU alumni. A second-floor technology lab is named for donors who together funded the building’s mechanical and electrical operations: Mechanical Contractors Association, the National Electrical Contractors Association and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning National Association. Renovation of the courtyard off the Oval was a partnership by Concrete Frame Associates and ValleyCrest Landscape Development of Denver.

The original building has a complex history of construction, with the original red sandstone building facing Rembrandt Street built in 1883, some additions to the north side facing Laurel Street built in two following phases, an addition to the east end of the building completed in 1892, and another addition to the west end in 1896. Finally, a horse stable was built and connected to the building in 1899.

The building is one of the few remaining structures on campus from the Pioneer Era –1870-1909. Formerly known as the Mechanic Shop, its name was changed in the 1890s to the Mechanical Engineering Building. In 1959, the name changed to the Arts Building, in 1969 to Arts-Industrial and in 1972 to Industrial Sciences. The foundry in the building played an important part in World War II by serving as a production center during the war. The building now serves the Department of Construction Management.