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