Lory Student Center

The Lory Student Center is one of the most active and inclusive student centers in the country. Living inside a mid-century classic building with multiple fragmented renovations and additions, the building needed greatly improved organization and increased space. The expansion is seamless in architectural style while integrating new iconic features.

The overarching goals of the rejuvenation of the Lory Student Center were straightforward – bring back clear circulation and wayfinding, expand spaces for student use, and embody the university’s goal of emphasizing diversity and inclusion. From the main plaza at the east entry, you are welcomed with co-located Student Diversity Programs Offices along with an associated art gallery that celebrates heritage. Continue walking toward the west and find a branded story of Colorado State’s land grant history alongside a stunning view of the mountains. At every step are spaces for students: ballroom, student theatre, senate chamber, student activities, and lounges.

Critical to the physical revitalization of the Lory Student Center was the charge to respect the architectural heritage of the original student center, which first opened its doors in 1962 as the feature building on campus by architect James Hunter. Hunter’s legacy of midcentury modernism has been rejuvenated by removing many of the building additions from the past 50 years that did not adhere to the simplicity of an organizational framework.

At the initial visioning of the project, the team determined to reuse as much as possible from the existing infrastructure in order to minimize the carbon footprint of the building materials. Based on this decision, the original structure was reused and reinforced with carbon fiber in order to maintain the floor heights while being able to redistribute the structural live loads of new uses throughout the building. The building energy systems were completely overhauled to improve performance, remove inefficiencies, and adapt the system zone demands to the varied types of spaces and locations throughout the building.

Reusing as much of the original structure as possible was an important tenet of the sustainable design goals of the project. As part of the planning process, we worked closely with the Institute for the Built Environment at CSU, an academic program focused on sustainable excellence, whose input informed our design decisions. As a result of this process and the University’s commitment to sustainability, the building systems are energy efficient and the building is tracking LEED Gold certification.

Two historic mosaic walls were preserved and salvaged stained glass was reused as an art installation in the theatre lobby. Select areas of stone from the existing building were reused, including the Ramshead sculptures. Part of the design strategy to celebrate the revitalized Lory Student Center was the reinforcement of the building’s identify and its connection to campus. Sandstone is used extensively on the building facades to provide a visual connection to the material palette of the campus, while a stone wall extending East-West connects the Free Speech Plaza with the Mountain views and serves as an organizational and wayfinding element. Bold branding elements and graphics in the main public areas celebrate the Land Grant institutional heritage.

The decision to revitalize the Lory Student Center was largely driven by a mission to celebrate the building’s midcentury heritage by stripping away the additions from the past 50 years. Having this vision from the beginning and maintaining the integrity of the design goals resulted in giving back a building to the vital student life at Colorado State University.