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New home for Denver Water laboratory taking shape

Walls of Hydro building at CSU Spur campus rising from the ground.

Coauthored by Colorado State University

Vertical steel construction is underway at Hydro — the final of three buildings at the CSU Spur campus in north Denver to hit this major construction milestone.

The new Hydro building on the CSU Spur campus in north Denver rises from the ground. Part of the building will house Denver Water’s new water quality laboratory. Photo credit: CSU Spur.

The CSU Spur campus at the National Western Center is focused on offering education programs for learners of all ages. The three buildings that make up the CSU Spur campus are scheduled to open in 2022. 

  • Vida, a building focused on animal and human health; will open in January 2022.
  • Terra, a building focused on food and agriculture; will partially in January with full opening by April 2022.
  • Hydro, a building focused on water; will open in November 2022.

You can keep an eye on the progress of construction here, via live camera feeds

Hydro is a 125,000-square-foot building that will bring water research to life. Part of the building will be home to Denver Water’s new water quality laboratory. 
“Planning for the water demands of the future requires innovation and an understanding of how customer needs and policies surrounding water in our state are changing. This includes not just urban water solutions, but also how to improve agricultural production and watershed health,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO/Manager of Denver Water.
Lochhead said Denver Water’s role at the CSU Spur campus will be centered around research, innovation, policy and education.

The new Hydro building (right) under construction at the CSU Spur campus in north Denver. On the left is the Terra building. Both are scheduled to open in 2022. Photo credit: CSU Spur.

“CSU Spur will be home to science, policy, innovation and research on display – anyone who visits Spur will see science and scientists in action,” said Jocelyn Hittle, assistant vice chancellor of CSU Spur and special projects for CSU System. 
“Starting in January, youth and families can see in real time what it means to be a professional working on big global challenges—and know that they can have a role to play—all while experiencing fun, hands-on education.”
The CSU Colorado Water Center will also be engrained in activities and research in the Hydro building, focusing on water research, policy and innovation.
A key benefit, though, is that the entire CSU Spur campus will be open to the public, providing the opportunity for everyday visitors to watch research-in-action – turning every visit into a learning opportunity.

“This work will build on the solid foundation of our work at CSU, building on even more educational and research potential as well as outreach to a new audience,” said Jennifer Gimbel, interim director and senior water policy scholar, CSU Colorado Water Center.

A rendering of what the Hydro building will look like. The building is scheduled for completion in 2022. Image credit: hord|coplan|macht.

An additional benefit is the natural environment connected to CSU Spur. 

The Hydro building backyard will back up to the South Platte River — the river borders the larger reimagined National Western Center and will be cleaned up as part of the project.

“Denver Water is excited to participate in a project that will further water science while improving habitat and access along the South Platte River. The river access will not only serve as a nice amenity to the campus but allow stakeholders and Colorado’s next water citizens to study and improve the urban watershed,” Lochhead said. 

“The revitalized South Platte River is the perfect backdrop for what will soon be home to Denver Water’s state-of-the-art water quality laboratory.”

As the largest building at Spur, the Hydro building will be the epicenter of activity and is home to flexible classrooms and rentable event spaces, a flexible theater seating up to 250 people, activated outdoor spaces with connectivity to the river, and a farm-to-table café, serving greens grown in the Terra building rooftop greenhouse.

In addition to Denver Water’s new water quality lab, the Hydro building will include flexible classrooms, rentable event spaces and a flexible theater seating up to 250 people. Image credit: hord|coplan|macht.

The CSU Spur campus will be an art destination that reflects the local and global communities — art at Hydro will include works by Eric Tillinghast, Nikki Pike, and Anthony Garcia, Sr. of Globeville’s Birdseed Collective.

Hydro broke ground in October 2020 and will open in November 2022; it is designed by Hord Coplan Macht and SmithGroup.

“As we mark these construction milestones, the CSU Spur campus really begins to come to life, and we are thrilled to open our first buildings to the public in January,” Hittle said.