Boulder, Colorado | Higher Education

University of Colorado Boulder Engineering Center Renovation

$16 M | 78,000 SF

Renovation of the Civil Engineering and Environmental Sustainability wings of the Engineering Complex at University of Colorado Boulder, to upgrade systems to support modern-day laboratory space.

  • Complex renovation in an occupied building, upgrades to infrastructure systems to support redesigned laboratory space




Cator, Ruma & Associates provided mechanical, electrical, and technology design for the Engineering Center Renovation at University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder). The purpose of the project is to renovate approximately 78,000 square feet of office, laboratory, research, and associated ancillary spaces in the Civil Engineering (ECCE) and Environmental Sustainability (ECES) wings of the engineering complex. 

The entire complex is an 800,000-square-foot complex on the main campus of the CU Boulder campus. This complex remained occupied and connected to these two wings while under construction. There were a number of challenges presented to the design team by this renovation. 

First, the engineering complex has a building structure that was never intended for the high-density fume hood and research spaces of modern-day laboratories. Creative solutions needed to be found to maintain an open lab feeling along with maximizing the amount of space that the users and researchers could use. In addition, many of the utilities and infrastructure had insufficient capacity and outdated technology. These systems needed to be largely replaced and upgraded to achieve the final design standards. 

Another project challenge was the requirement that half of the wing stay online until the other half was fully renovated. Upon full renovation of half of the ECES Wing, we then occupied the renovated half and began remodel on the second half, ultimately maintaining half occupancy of the wing throughout construction until completion. 

Many of the systems that we provided this for not only took into account reliability and redundancy, but also accommodated the phasing goals of the project. The creative solutions provided by CRA allowed not only the phasing of the construction to be successful, but also the ultimate design and operation of the building meet the goals of the operations and engineering staff at the University. 

CRA also coordinated with a wind study and dispersion model to ensure that the hazardous exhaust and pollutants being discharged from the laboratory exhaust fans had no harmful effect on the neighboring wings in the complex or buildings on campus. True variable volume air systems, process chilled water loop, LED lighting throughout, and other sustainable measures were employed on this project to exceed the sustainability and energy efficiency goals laid out by the University.

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