CAP celebrates dawning of new era with open house

CAP celebrates dawning of new era with open house

Guests at the CAP open house enjoy seeing the renovated second-floor space in the CU Building. CAP Dean Mark Gelernter (center, in suit and glasses) greeted guests as they walked into the college's main reception area. Photo: Jesse Kuroiwa

Students, faculty and staff celebrated a new beginning for the College of Architecture and Planning on Aug. 26 as CAP hosted a festive open house for its second-floor renovation in the CU Building.

CAP Dean Mark Gelernter, along with Chancellor Don Elliman and Provost Rod Nairn, christened the new CAP reception area, studio space, gallery, lecture room and student lounge with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and hearty thanks to everyone who has contributed to this exciting new era for the college.

"This is a very, very special time in the history of the College of Architecture and Planning, and it's a great opportunity," Gelernter said to the gathering of more than 170 students, faculty, staff and alumni.

With this year's launch of an undergraduate architecture program, CAP at CU Denver is now the only college in Colorado offering comprehensive degrees in design and planning of the built environment, from undergraduate through accredited professional master's degrees to the doctorate.

Gelernter thanked Elliman and Nairn for their "unwavering support" for CAP during this transitional period. "We've been through thick and thin and a lot of dramatic changes in this college and these two have done more than anyone would ever expect to support us and to make this work for us," he said. "Now we're reaping the benefits of that."

Gelernter added, "I’d also like to thank the faculty, staff and students whose hard work made this possible. I don’t think we’d have the support of (the chancellor and provost) if all of you weren't doing this amazing work in the college.”

CAP already has 100 students enrolled in the undergraduate program and about 400 graduate students. On the second floor, which was designed by RNL, CAP students enjoy state-of-the-art studio space, a comfortable student lounge, a welcoming reception area and convenient, one-stop access to advisers, recruiters, mentorship and internship manager and conference space.

"We saw this as being a case study of how to do adaptive re-use of an old urban renewal building," Gelernter said. The second floor has a distinct, urban loft feel, melding up-to-date functions within the integrity of the original building.

The lobby also features furniture designed and built by CAP students. They took doors and other materials from the previous second-floor Business School space and recycled them into modern-looking furnishings.

Elliman congratulated CAP for its new beginning. "We are an urban research university -- that's who and what we are," he said. "Part of that means that you develop programs that are in synch with and in service to the community. And I can't think of a better example of that than the College of Architecture and Planning."

Nairn commended CAP for its growth, its international reach, quality programs and award-winning students and faculty. "Spaces like this are what attract great students and help attract faculty, so they can do more great things," he said. "Thank you for what you do."

Dominic Weilminster, a CAP alumnus, was a primary architect from RNL who designed the new space. "The experience of the space is meant to celebrate the process of how creative work is done in the architecture school, from conceptual explorations in the studio spaces to their final communication in the gallery spaces," Weilminster said.

He explained that RNL purposely chose "raw, honest and not overly manufactured materials" to both enhance student learning about the built environment and provide an invigorated sense of identity for CAP. "We worked very hard to create a space that will remain viable even as design within the school evolves and, all the while, making a strong enough statement to provide a new identity for the school."

The space also includes a lecture room, which was used Aug. 26 for the Inaugural Lecture by Rick Joy. Joy, of Tucson, Ariz., is recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture and the National Design Award from the Smithsonian Institute / Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and known especially for his desert works including Ventana Canyon House, Desert Nomad House and AvraVerde in Arizona.

The new gallery space features an exhibit of original drawings by Warren T. Byrd Jr., a renowned designer who recently received lifetime achievement commendation from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The exhibit, which runs through Oct. 2, is curated by CAP's Department of Landscape Architecture.

"The exhibit space allows us to be one of the venues in Denver for showing exhibits on design and planning," Gelernter said.