CSU Spur campus reaches another construction milestone

Margaret Jackson

(DENVER, Colo.) Work on the the Colorado State University Spur campus at the National Western Center marked a milestone on April 20 when the final beam is placed on the Terra building.

The Terra building, one of three CSU buildings under construction on the campus, will be partially open in time for the 2022 National Western Stock Show. The other buildings are the Vida building, which will be completed by the time the stock show starts in January, and the water-focused Hydro building, which will open in September 2022. The $200 million Spur campus is part of the redevelopment of the National Western Center.


Colorado State University Spur campus/Anderson Mason Dale Architects

CSU’s overall focus at the National Western Center will be on food systems, water, energy, environment and health, and each of the buildings on the Spur campus will serve a specific purpose. The buildings all will provide space for the public to interact with the activities occurring on the campus.

“It’s museum meets laboratory,” said Kathryn Venzor, CSU Spur’s director of education.

Paula Mills, chief of staff and operations for CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, said the campus will help bridge the gap between rural and urban communities that often are prone to division. The vision is to promote STEM in agricultural education for kindergarten through 12th-grade students that isn’t currently present in urban populations.

“Even though it’s based in Denver, which is urban, we see this as a hub where we can attract the broader state into Denver,” Mills said.

The College of Agriculture plans to take research projects being conducted on the campus and boil them down into problem-based learning kits that can be shipped to schools that are unable to bring their students to Spur.

“The kits will embody STEM principles and empower teachers by giving them new techniques,” Mills said.

The Spur campus also plans to partner with business accelerators in the food and agricultural innovation arenas to connect entrepreneurs with its network of rancher and farmers to launch small businesses.

The Terra building will be focused on food and agriculture and provide experiential learning opportunities and research. It will have space for Denver Urban Extension to offer a variety of resources from gardening classes to energy audits. It also will have flexible spaces for arts performances, business incubation and laboratory research as well as a rooftop garden and greenhouse that will be accessible to the public.

Together We Grow, a consortium of food and agriculture companies that’s working on making America an agricultural leader, is among the organizations that will move into the Terra building when it’s completed.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, the organization’s executive director, plans to provide education about what a career path in agriculture could look like for students, may think only of the farmers on tractors in fields. Kirkpatrick wants to broaden their horizons so they understand there are agricultural career paths that include geneticists, soil scientists, civil engineers who think about transporting water and venture capitalists who invest in agribusiness startups.

“We have really interwoven more exposure into careers and opportunities to really understand the full breadth of what people do in these spaces to make a meaningful difference. We’ll be focused on the story telling about people who have incredible jobs that you probably never though of when you think about food and agriculture.”

The Vida building will bring university experts, veterinarians, service providers and nonprofit organizations together to focus on animal health, human health, equine sports medicine and assisted therapy. The Dumb Friends League will have space in the building for small animal clinics where the public can see the veterinary team in action.

“We want to raise awareness for different types of careers and degrees,” Venzor said. “We want to create pathways to college and career.”

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I'm a Denver-based business writer with expertise in commercial and residential real estate as well as general business news.

Denver, CO

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