UCCS arts center plans emerging

Located not far from North Nevada Avenue, this is how the UCCS arts center is expected to look.

Located not far from North Nevada Avenue, this is how the UCCS arts center is expected to look.

Plans are taking shape for the $58 million UCCS Visual and Performing Arts Center, with roughly a quarter of the funding already raised, design scheduled to be done in early 2014 and the project on track to begin construction in 2015, according to university officials.

UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said that nearly $15 million — $4.7 via state grant money and $10 million from the University of Colorado system president’s Initiative Fund — of the estimated $58 million budget has been approved.

“We have right now a considerable amount of money raised,” Shockley-Zalabak said, adding that UCCS anticipates completion of the facility in 2017. “We’re spreading all over creation.”

According to the UCCS 2020 Strategic Plan, the VaPA Center will house the Gallery of Contemporary Art (GOCA 1420), Osborne Studio Theatre, classroom space and a performance stage that Shockley-Zalabak said will seat 750 people.

 

“We’re spreading all over creation.”

– Pam Shockley-Zalabak

Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Martin Wood said that the facility will be roomy enough to house public-accessible space and a few other partners.

“[The center will] first and foremost house the UCCS Department of Visual and Performing Arts, TheatreWorks and GOCA,” Wood said.

“We’re currently talking to community and regional partners who might want to be a part of that complex, and the financial and revenue streams that they can bring to the table.”

The strategic plan indicates other features of the center will include sculpture gardens, green space, access to ample parking and public transit.

But those are post-construction costs, and Shockley-Zalabak said that funding for the project is more complicated than ever: When she became chancellor in 2002, UCCS received 54 cents of each dollar from the state of Colorado — now it’s 8 cents, and much funding must now come from other sources.

UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton said that if all goes as hoped, the $43.3 million in remaining construction costs will flow from separate sources in roughly this way:

• $13.3 million in additional state grant money sometime this year;

• $9.6 million in additional state grant money next year;

• $20.4 million via private donations and bonds.

“This is one scenario only,” Hutton said. “Emphasis on ‘scenario’ because, of course, there are two years of requests to the state General Assembly,” which has cut higher-education funding in the state budget — and that has yet to be restored.

The center, planned to be LEED gold-certified (the standard for all future UCCS construction), will “either split into two buildings to separate the visual and performing arts or be combined as one,” according to the strategic plan. Its budget is the second largest in the long-term plan — after a $92 million sports arena in UCCS’ plan for a National Sports, Art and Wellness Village — of the 10 or so campus projects in the school’s master plan.

UCCS accepted proposals until Aug. 22 for architectural design for “Phase I of a Visual and Performing Arts Center and Site Micro-Master Plan, according to the UCCS website. Shockley-Zalabak said the project should be designed by March 2014, with multi-phase construction beginning in March 2015.

The VaPA center is “Building 2” in the initial three-building Village plan for the North Nevada Avenue urban renewal zone, which runs north to south along the western edge of the campus. The first building is the $18.5 million, 54,000-square-foot Lane Center for Academic Health, scheduled for completion in January. The third building planned for the complex is a $27 million Sports Medicine and Performance Center that was included in the City for Champions proposal for funds from the state Regional Tourism Act.

Wood also said that relocation of the Four Diamonds athletic fields may be necessary for the VaPA facility.

Shockley-Zalabak said the Village complex eventually will include eight facilities focused on physical, mental and academic well-being.

Other improvement projects include additions to the Summit Village housing complex, adding nearly 200 beds on campus this semester; an apartment complex on the north side of campus, planned to house 142 students; a 1,200-stall subterranean parking structure topped by athletic fields, which Shockley-Zalabak said should be completed in March; a large academic building for faculty offices; a high-altitude track with disabled access and training facilities; and a renovation project doubling the size of the UCCS recreation center.

“As campus activity shifts north, more investments will be made in North Campus infrastructure and recreation fields, and the transit spine will be constructed to facilitate easy access to this redeveloped district,” according to the strategic plan. “The university will continue to increase its on-campus housing capacity by completing Alpine Village with several new residence halls and a building addition to the Student Recreation Center.”