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Final building for CSU Spur campus wrapping construction

New Hydro building to open for National Western Stock Show.

This story is in partnership with Colorado State University.

By Tiana Kennedy, Associate Vice Chancellor, CSU System

Denver Water and Colorado State University are preparing to open the new Hydro building on the CSU Spur campus at the National Western Center. 

Construction on the Hydro building will be complete in January and marks the opening of the third and final building at the Spur campus. A public ribbon cutting will be held Jan. 6, the day before the 2023 National Western Stock show begins its two-week run, Jan. 7-22.

CSU Spur is a first-of-its-kind concept. The first building opened in January 2022, launching an extension of the Colorado State University System campuses with a new location in Denver. CSU Spur is focused on educating the public and engaging the next generation in the interdisciplinary areas of food, water and health.

The CSU Spur campus also includes the Vida building, which opened in January 2022 and is focused on public health, and the Terra building, which opened in April 2022 and focused on land and agriculture.

Hydro, a building focused on water, is the third and largest building to be completed. 

It continues the offering of CSU Spur being a free, public learning destination that provides space for researchers and scientists to collaborate and innovate while inviting visitors to watch those professionals at work.

A spiral staircase will greet visitors and workers inside the new Hydro building when it opens Jan. 6, 2023. Photo credit: Denver Water.

“Hydro provides an opportunity to expand the conversation around water challenges, not only here in the American West, but around the world. In Hydro, we will create a community that connects creative minds in policy, research, education and innovation, in pursuit of solutions to our water challenges,” said Jocelyn Hittle, associate vice chancellor of CSU Spur. 

“The facility creates the space and support, but the programs and people that are coming are the most exciting aspect of completing the campus.”

Read more about how Denver Water helped shape the redevelopment of the National Western Center.

Home to Denver Water’s new water quality laboratory, the building will give people a glimpse into part of the extensive work that goes into the testing and treatment of Colorado’s drinking water. 

With the move to the Hydro building, Denver Water’s lab will emerge from its previous location at the Marston Treatment Plant in southwest Denver and settle into a more central location near the junction of Interstate 70 and I-25. 

The new location will make it easier for Denver Water employees to bring water samples from across the utility’s system.

Once the laboratory is set up and certified later in 2023, Denver Water will be able to perform more than 200,000 water quality tests every year.

Denver Water will open its new water quality laboratory inside the Hydro building in 2023. Photo credit: Denver Water.

“Denver Water’s new, state-of-the-art water quality laboratory at Hydro ensures we can continue delivering a high-quality and safe drinking water supply to the 1.5 million people we serve across the Denver metro area,” said Denver Water CEO/Manager Jim Lochhead. 

“Being part of the Spur campus also puts Denver Water in a space where we can better develop solutions to emerging water challenges for our customers and the state, while expanding on our robust youth education program to develop future water leaders.”

Denver Water’s water quality lab team conducts tests to ensure the water delivered to customers is safe to drink and meets all state and federal regulations. Photo credit: Denver Water.

In addition to the water quality laboratory, the Hydro building will house CSU programs and nonprofit organizations focused on water and water education, connect visitors to the Western water story through educational exhibits and rotating programming, and provide opportunities to engage with professionals with water-focused careers.

Outside of Hydro, an outdoor space — tagged the “Backyard” — wraps the west-facing side of the building and connects to the nearby South Platte River. In addition to exhibits and artwork welcoming play, the Backyard’s landscape architecture tells the story of Colorado’s watersheds and its role as a headwaters state.

Backcountry treks are a routine part of the job for Denver Water’s water quality team. 

A separate structure built in 1930 that was purchased and restored to connect to the Hydro building will offer affordable artist studio spaces, providing the public a glimpse into the creation of art, and also house water-related nonprofits in a collaborative space. The structure is affectionately called “The Shop” for its forward-facing innovation workspace role and its numerous past uses, which include an auto mechanic shop and a workshop.

Other attractions within the Hydro building include: 

  • Greywater catchment and usage in flushing toilets within the building, in line with OneWater practices.
  • A cafe featuring items with produce grown on-site at Spur in the Terra building.
  • Art installations, including works by Jason Bruges, Eric Tillinghast, Nikki Pike and Anthony Garcia Sr. of Globeville’s Birdseed Collective.
  • A flexible theater space that can hold up to 230 people.
  • Meeting space and indoor and outdoor event spaces for rent.
  • PreK-12 educational programs and exhibits.
  • Lab space for food and water professionals and entrepreneurs, “on-show” to the public.
  • The permanent home for the CSU Masters of Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management; the CSU Spur annual Water in the West Symposium; and the research location for CSU Spur BioBlitzes.

Watch a bit of the big moving day (Dec. 22, 2022) for the team at the water quality laboratory:

Video file