CSU Archives and Special Collections

CSU Buildings and Grounds History

A history of CSU's building and grounds from 1870 to the present.

University Center for the Arts, 2004-

Aerial view of a group of buildings and a running track surrounded by a residential area.

University Center for the Arts, 2003

From CSU's Sense of Place:  A Campus History of Colorado's Land-Grant University, by James E. Hansen, Gordon A. Hazard, and Linda M. Meyer.  Fort Collins, CO:  Colorado State University, 2018.

Architects - SLATERPAULL Architects of Denver (Griffin Concert Hall and renovation plan to create the UCA from the old high school buildings), Klipp Architects / Bryan Construction Incorporated (2015 Avenir Museum renovation and expansion)

Builders –G. E. Johnson Construction Company of Centennial (Griffin Music Hall), Bryan Construction Incorporated (2015 renovation and expansion of Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising)

1400 Remington Street (UCA), 216 East Lake Street (Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising)

Dreams of a “University Performing Arts Center” started in the mid-1960s.  The answer to this dream finally came in the form of a building constructed in 1924 by the Poudre Valley School District.  This historic building originally served as Fort Collins High School for 70 years. Showcasing “Classic and Colonial-revival” style, the former high school building was designated a local historic landmark in 1994.

Colorado State University purchased the vacated facility in 1997.  Over the next decade, as funds were raised from public and private sources, renovation projects took place and the old high school building slowly transformed into the “University Center for the Arts” (UCA).  During the summer of 2000, a “Pedestrian/Bicycle Tunnel” was installed under South College Avenue to physically and safely connect the UCA buildings and its Annual Flower Trail Garden with the Main Campus on the west side of busy South College Avenue.

Design work for the transformation from a high school to a center for the arts was done by SLATERPAULL Architects of Denver.  In the late summer of 2004, the “Griffin Concert Hall” on the west side of the building opened.  Built by the G. E. Johnson Construction Company, it was named in honor of Edna Rizley Griffin, a longtime advocate and benefactor of the local performing arts.  Her support included the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra and the Lincoln Center Concert Hall.  This 567-seat facility was built as an addition to the existing part of the University Center for the Arts.

The new “Griffin Concert Hall” hosted its first concert on September 23, 2004.  It was found to have been designed and constructed so well that it received high praise from visiting musical artists for its acoustics.  It has been said by some to be equal or better than Carnegie Hall in New York City.  This 7,800 square foot “Griffin Concert Hall” has become one of the main theatre facilities on campus.  The old theatres at both Johnson Hall and the Lory Student Center were later redesigned into other configurations.

Over the next four years, major renovation work was done throughout the old Fort Collins High School building to fully create the “University Center for the Arts”. The UCA was dedicated on October 16, 2008. This showcase facility became home to the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, the Department of Art, a Visual Arts Gallery, the Natural History Center, the Department of Design and Merchandising, as well as the College of Applied Human Sciences and University Relations. Printing and Publications is housed in a building on the east side of the complex.

The old Lambkin-Scott Field, with its cinder running track, is used by the CSU Marching Band as a practice area and by many local residents to exercise their dogs.  One of the famous Andy Warhol signed Campbell Soup Cans owned by CSU was placed on public display on the west side of the UCA.

Currently, the UCA houses performing arts venues including the Griffin Concert Hall, Runyan Music Hall, Bohemian Theatre Complex, Organ Recital Hall (home of the famous Casavant Fréres Organ), and University Dance Theater.  It also houses dance studios, recital and rehearsal chambers, and classrooms to enable students and members of our community to learn about and benefit from the arts.

The University Center for the Arts is furnished with over 75 high-quality pianos distributed throughout the performance venues, rehearsal spaces, and practice rooms, including many newer Steinways.  It also includes the Colorado State University Art Museum with four galleries for the exhibition of the University's permanent art collections and traveling exhibitions, and historic costume and textile gallery. In addition, the center provides clinic space for the Music Therapy program and the Center for Biomedical Research in Music. These spaces bring the University's performing and visual arts programs together under one roof, opening doors to entirely new avenues in learning and creative expression.

In the spring of 2015, the addition to the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising was designed and completed by Klipp Architects and Bryan Construction Incorporated.  Construction on a Fine Arts addition was completed in early 2016.  In early February 2016 it was announced the art museum would be renamed the “Gregory Allicar Museum of Art” to honor the $2 million in donations coming in over the past two years from about 20 donors.  In February 2106, the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising began a renovation and expansion project that was completed and opened in September 2016.

During the summer and fall of 2016, the lawn south of the Griffin Concert Hall wing was converted into the “Perennial Flower Trial Garden” for the Department of Horticulture.  This garden had formally been located on West Lake Street at the old W. D. Holley Plant Environmental Research Center.

Sources by Gordon A. Hazard

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Rocky Mountain Collegian, August 26, 1997, page 3, vol. 106, issue 3.

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Comment, September 13, 2001, page 3, vol. 32, number 4.

Rocky Mountain Collegian, January 24, 2002, pages 1 and 3, vol. 111, number 79.

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Rocky Mountain Collegian, June 12, 2002, page 2, vol. 111, number 1.

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http://source.colostate.edu/bacon-literally-pulls-stops-lecture/ , by Tony Pfifer, dated March 2, 2017.

https://source.colostate.edu/green-spaces-define-csu/ , Source, August 16, 2017, by Jennifer Dimas.

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