This week's cover story, "Ghosts of Auraria," delves into the half-buried history of the campus, which is moving rapidly forward with hefty development plans that include three new flagship student-services buildings, a hotel, and a leap across Colfax to build new athletic fields on a contaminated industrial site. The changes are coming so fast you need a program to identify the players -- and a few good maps.
Part of the impetus for the current growth spurt at Denver's empire of higher ed is simply a demand for more space; the three institutions sharing the existing campus -- University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the Community College of Denver -- now collectively enroll three times the number of students that took classes there when Auraria opened 35 years ago. But the creation of public-private partnerships, such as Metro's deal with Marriott to build a hotel that hosts MSU's hospitality program, is also forcing some other moves; the hotel stands where Metro students used to play tennis.
That's why Metro acquired land south of Colfax for new athletic fields, as depicted in this first rendition. Construction of the new courts and a soccer field began this month, with hopes of getting things ready for tennis late this summer.
As detailed in my feature, all three of the institutions are also seeking to develop their own identity and brand, erecting new flagship buildings for their exclusive use. The Auraria Higher Education Center has given each party their own geographic sphere of influence, designating different "neighborhoods" on campus, as shown in the next map. But note how UCD's neighborhood extends across Speer into lower downtown, where its business school and some administrative offices are located. Continue to see another map, as well as the complete master plan. The latest update to the Auraria master plan contains plenty of other helpful maps and thoughtful discussion of the options the campus is weighing in the immediate future. But we're also fond of this conceptual proposal done by Karen Kalavity of Integra Design, urging more green space, street closures, and a heavier reliance on transit and bike paths. No AHEC officials appear to be championing it, but it's pleasant to contemplate: Here's the master plan in its entirety.
More from our Environment archive: "Auraria's new bike lane eliminates downtown 'dead zone' for cyclists, advocates say."