Center for Community at the University of Colorado at Boulder / Centerbrook Architects with Davis Partnership Architects

© Paul Brokering

The Center for Community at the University of Colorado at established a commanding architectural and unifying presence when it opened last fall, immediately becoming the go-to-place to break bread, have meetings, and make new friends on a sprawling campus with 30,000 residents. The 900-seat, street-market styled dining complex serves as the heartbeat of the new “C4C,” as the 320,000-square-foot building is known in collegiate shorthand.

Architect: Centerbrook Architects with Davis Partnership Architects
Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
Project Area: 320,000 sqf
Photographs: Paul Brokering, Casey Cass

© Paul Brokering

Geared to satisfying the tastes of an increasingly diverse and sophisticated student body – all looking for varied, healthy, fresh, authentic cuisine – it houses nine themed micro-restaurants, each with its own fare, ambience, and flair. Venues offer everything from Sushi, fresh Latin and Italian specialties, to authentic Asian and Persian delights. In their design and presentation, the interiors are as distinctive as the menus, which place particular emphasis on organic and regional produce, sustainable living and dietary habits (daily non-allergen and kosher specialties are offered). During the first semester of operation, dining attendance exceeded expectations by 50 percent as C4C served more than 6,000 a day, and faculty and staff patronage soared.

© Paul Brokering

In addition, the new Center consolidates all12 student service departments that were previously scattered about in unused basements and dorm rooms, thereby creating a one-stop service destination. Administrative offices, meeting rooms, a commissary for other food outlets on campus, and a 367-car underground parking garage also are housed there.

© Paul Brokering

Inside the Center for Community, warm wood trim and paneling combine with ample swaths of vivid and varied colors to enliven and distinguish spaces, imbuing them with a sense of cheer and optimism. The use of local materials, regional colors and organic patterns serve to connect the indoors with the spectacular environment outside.

© Paul Brokering

The popularity of the new facility has validated the thesis that food can be a critical catalyst in an institution’s efforts to foster residential life, social interaction, and community building. Despite being in aggregate the largest restaurant in the state, the dining complex at C4C offers the institutional equivalent of the sit-down family meal, brining not just students but faculty and staff together as well. The $84.4 million project is slated for LEED Gold.

© Paul Brokering

The Center for Community represents a collaboration of designers, architects, food service specialists, and lighting designers that included and Planners of Centerbook, Connecticut, Davis Partnership Architects of Denver, Baker Group of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Hefferan Partnership of Boulder, Colorado.

© Casey Cass

Centerbrook Architects and Planners Project Team: James C. Childress, FAIA, Design Architect; Roger U. Williams, AIA, Design Architect; James C. Childress, FAIA; Roger U. Williams, AIA, Project Manager; Scott Allen, AIA; David C. Symonds, Jr., AIA; Sara Dodson, Peter Kohn, Chris Sziabowski, Matthew Stewart, James A. Coan, AIA; William H. Grover, FAIA; Lisa Boettger, Kenneth E. Cleveland, Kyle Kirkwood, AIA; Patrick McCauley, Peter Cornell, Associate AIA, LEED AP; Harding Dowell, Associate AIA, LEED AP; Sara G. Dodson, LEED AP; David C. Symonds, Jr., AIA
Architect of Record: Davis Partnership Architects
Project Team of Davis Partnership Architects: Brit Probst, AIA; Curtis Cox, AIA; Lynn Moore, FASLA; Jimmy Schumacher, Tony Thornton, Deborah Willier, Janette Ray, Cynthia Steinbrecher, Jennifer Henry, Paul Garland, Meg Rapp, Jin Park, Brandon Williams, Drew Leeper, Chris Silewski, David Ortiz, Jason Sampson, Laren Sakota
Structural Engineer: Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers
MEP Engineer: M-E Engineers
Civil Engineer: S.A. Miro, Inc.
Food Service Consultant: Bakergroup
Cost Estimator: Preconstruction Services Inc.
Energy/LEED Consultant: Architectural Energy Corporation
Roofing Consultant: SR+dK Consultants, Inc.
Parking Consultant: Carl Walker Parking, Inc.
IT Consultant: Rimrock Group, Inc.
Acoustical Consultant: Shen Milsom & Wilke
Lighting Design: Hefferan Partnership, Inc.
Landscape Architect: Davis Partnership Architects with Ann Mullins
Contractor: Saunders Construction, Inc.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Center for Community at the University of Colorado at Boulder / Centerbrook Architects with Davis Partnership Architects" 26 Jul 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Dennis Moss Jnr

    a building like this will always polarise opinions between architects on the one side and the “layperson” on the other… the former will most definitely criticise it and the latter will usually love it! says a lot about our industry, no?

  • mishka

    This is to architecture as the Olive Garden is to food… wait… wait a minute… is this Olive Garden World Headquarters??

    • Dennis Moss Jnr

      sarcasm! how predictable

  • JDisa

    Seriously?! Does ArchDaily exercise no curatorial discretion over the projects it publicizes? This is one of the worst buildings I have ever seen…

  • design.language

    I cannot believe that this project is up for ArchDaily Building of the Year 2011 nomination, but I bet they have good breadsticks!