Auraria Campus and Lawrence Street Mall
Auraria Campus

Auraria Higher Education Center is home to three higher educational institutions sited on the former historic town of Auraria. The campus was planned in the early 1970’s as a highly rational grid of anonymous buildings sited into the grid of pre-existing streets. A small group of historic houses was saved as part of the administrative campus. By 1984 when Civitas was selected to do a new master plan, the campus had grown to 35,000 FTE but was still separated by two state highways. Almost every walkway was just a leftover city street, with crumbling paving, inaccessible walks and entryways, and an overall landscape that was in poor repair and lacking amenities.

Civitas led a master plan involving students, faculty, administration, city officials and nearby neighbors. The over-arching goals of the community were to consolidate parking, reduce auto traffic, improve walkability, add amenities and upgrade all facilities to become accessible. The master plan called for several new buildings and parking garages each sited to create or attach to a new system of pedestrian ways, courtyards or quadrangle spaces.

Of more than 20 subsequent projects that Civitas designed and built on campus, the most important was the Lawrence Street Mall which ties the primary academic buildings into a cohesive place. Parking, traffic and utilities were relocated, gardens were built with an emphasis on seating and gathering, and over grove of over 200 trees was planted using sustainable soils, drainage and irrigation techniques.

The creation of the mall was an instant success, making the campus not just more useable but also better connected internally and to downtown while also giving the campus a new identity and presence that has made Auraria truly downtown’s urban park.

Client: Auraria Higher Education Center
Collaborators: Hoover Berg Desmond, Anderson Mason Dale Architects
Completed: Ongoing since 1984
Budget: Over $20 million in site improvements