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University of Denver Community Commons and Dimond Family Residential Village

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Project Details

Higher Education, Residential, Demolition & Abatement, Site Development, Sustainable/LEED, New Ground Up

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    Data Analysis

    A major component of the Denver Advantage Campus Framework Plan, the Community Commons and Diamond Family Residential Village aims to improve the student experience by providing a space that reimagines community connection.

    Community Commons

    Located at the heart of the DU campus, the 132,000-square-feet Community Commons building houses spaces for events, programming, dining, student organizations and support services. Designed by Anderson Mason Dale, in association with Moore Ruble Yudell Architects, the building presents opportunities for students, faculty and staff to encounter each other, form connections and cultivate relationships.

    Student support services are housed entirely in the Community Commons, instead of being spread across multiple buildings, Student Services staff can provide comprehensive support and guidance in one, central location. The design includes multi-story pathways and gathering spaces through the building, presenting opportunities for students, faculty and staff to encounter each other, form connections and cultivate relationships.

    The four-story project includes the campus’ central dining room, which is made up of nine different micro-restaurants providing students a variety of dining options. The building’s 700-person capacity ensures there’s a space for anyone to connect with peers and faculty, including an undergraduate and graduate student lounge, separated by a large exterior balcony. The Community Commons also houses the campus’ only dedicated faculty lounge. A large event space, the Grand Forum is located on the first floor. The fourth floor is nearly all outdoors and captures the beauty of the surrounding campus — offering a rooftop oasis for student gatherings.

    The Community Commons includes a green roof, with approximately 30 percent of the roof planted with grass. The Driscoll Bridge, which was closed during construction, re-opened with access to the second floor of the Community Commons. This popular campus crossing over Evans Avenue accommodated 4,000 crossings prior to construction.

    Dimond Residential Village

    To foster meaningful interactions, dialogues and relationships among their 1,500 first-year students, the new Dimond Family Residential Village features “pods” of about 24 students each, programming space and an outdoor gathering area that can accommodate the entire first-year class. The residential village has more than 250 rooms, which, at capacity, can house more than 500 students. Students are separated into cohorts, which has proven to foster meaningful interactions, dialogues and relationships among the University’s first-year students. In addition, the building is divided into six different “houses” which are further separated into 21 different “pods,” each containing more than 20 rooms and a lounge. The hall includes an additional dozen common and study spaces and a Village Kitchen as well as an outdoor gathering area that can accommodate the entire first-year class of 1,500 students.

    The building is full of features that make it singular. Inside, concrete columns have been deliberately chipped to create a durable finish that will withstand move-in days for years to come. The fourth-floor bridge connecting the facility’s two wings boasts a critical design element: a tree trunk-like appearance, with the fretwork of the windows becoming a multistory canopy complete with a “tree house spot.” Also, a “workers wall” features the names of the 800 people who contributed to the building’s construction. The names of every architect, carpenter, flagman, and facility employee will be displayed alphabetically.

    Saunders worked hand-in-hand with DU to develop a diverse business program with a goal of 15{8d9908d2e430947440612bd7b2e9625d6cce44a26dcfc64efa34147a1d7d2ba1} participation for the project. The results far surpassed the goal by achieving 35{8d9908d2e430947440612bd7b2e9625d6cce44a26dcfc64efa34147a1d7d2ba1} minority-, women- and  veteran-owned businesses, as well as small businesses, resulting in over $15 million in economic impact from the Dimond project.

    The residential village also reflects a deep commitment to sustainability: Rooftop solar has been incorporated into the construction and the six different houses are individually metered, allowing for energy-use competitions among students. The building is also on track for LEED Gold certification.

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