University of Denver’s Kennedy Mountain Campus Comes to Life

University of Denver’s Kennedy Mountain Campus Comes to Life

$6 million campus overhaul

Work completed in five months

Immersive educational experience

Challenge: University Aspires to Create Immersive Learning Experience

At the heart of the University of Denver’s educational mission is a dynamic approach the university calls the 4D Experience. The 4D Experience aims to provide students with an immersive and holistic education where learning happens in classrooms, in laboratories and in the natural world.

The 4D Experience comes to life at the university’s James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus, which sits on 720 acres of open wilderness space near Red Feather Lakes, CO, and is bordered by the Roosevelt National Forest. The expansive and remarkable property is a place where “every student will find a unique and inspiring place to reconnect with themselves, make new lifelong connections with their peers and engage in activities that will build skills they can draw upon for a lifetime,” according to the university website.

But it took savvy decision-making and quick action to bring this vision to life.

The property was acquired from the Girl Scouts of Colorado by the university in December of 2021, thanks to a $26 million gift from Jim Kennedy, a University of Denver alumnus, chairman emeritus of Cox Enterprises and chairman of the James M. Cox Foundation. At that time, the property had much of the basic infrastructure in place but presented several obvious needs for improvement. For instance, four existing seasonal cabins required substantial renovation to be utilized year-round. An aging activity center, dining hall and high-occupancy cabins required upgrades to meet both ADA and university standards. The site’s dirt roads were not appropriate for the automobile traffic the new campus promised.

University leadership was eager to deliver an incomparable learning experience as soon as they could, with a target set at the beginning of the 2022 Fall Quarter for the first students to visit the property.

To deliver the project on time of the rapidly approaching deadline, the university’s Facilities Management & Planning needed a creative project delivery solution and construction procurement method that could enable the Kennedy Mountain Campus renovation projects to begin as soon as designs were finalized.

See how Gordian helps higher education leaders create campus experiences that adapt to learner demands and foster student success.

Solution: Gordian’s Job Order Contracting Provides Necessary Speed and Collaboration

Given the compressed timeline and the remoteness of the location, about an hour’s drive west of Ft. Collins, Colorado, near the Wyoming border, the University of Denver opted to complete the Kennedy Mountain Campus project deliverables with Gordian’s Job Order Contracting (JOC). An indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) construction procurement solution, JOC empowers organizations to complete many projects using a single, competitively-awarded contract. This unique, single-solicitation method accelerates the project delivery process by as much as 25% compared to traditional construction procurement methods, according to a study by NIGP and Gordian. JOC’s speed was crucial, given the project deadline.

Gordian’s commitment to contractor outreach and collaboration was vital as well. Gordian helps our clients host contractor outreach events to explain the ins-and-outs of Job Order Contracting programs, discuss the steps of a JOC project, present expectations of contractors and answer any questions they have about the bidding process. Once contractors are awarded, Gordian continues collaborating with them to find solutions for maximizing the project budget via value engineering and delivering an exceptional experience for the client.

JOC contractors develop long-term partnerships with contract owners that create the potential for a steady stream of work with less administrative overhead. These positive relationships come in handy when a project requires a tight turnaround in a remote location.

Result: Kennedy Mountain Campus Upgrades Completed Before Fall Quarter

Littleton, Colorado’s Facilities Contracting, Incorporated mobilized in late April and hit the ground running, just as springtime snowstorms were subsiding.

The four seasonal cabins and showerhouse facility were nearly completely rebuilt to serve as all-weather short-term housing. Facilities Contracting installed new insulation and flooring, finished the walls, updated mechanical, electric and fire suppression systems in the housing structures. The showerhouse was completely gutted, nearly rebuilt with ADA compliance and all-gender use in mind. These updates added much needed housing capacity and have made it possible for students, staff and guests of the Kennedy Mountain Campus, to use these cabins in any weather condition.

The dining hall lighting systems were upgraded to energy-efficient LED fixtures, and its bathrooms were renovated for accessibility and all-gender use. Similar upgrades were made in the six high-occupancy cabins and the Kennedy Mountain Campus’s activity center, which serves as a gateway to the campus’s outdoor experiences and as indoor activity space where students can participate in activities that promote physical health, like climbing the indoor rock wall or taking a yoga class.

Gordian’s JOC was also used to complete much-needed road and erosion control enhancements. Nearly three miles of asphalt was laid to allow for greater ease of access and maintenance during winter months in a part of Colorado’s Front Range known for heavy snowfall. More than a dozen tons of locally quarried rock were brought in as riprap to help mitigate stormwater and snowmelt erosion and to preserve the quality of the South Lone Pine Creek which bisects the campus.

Work wrapped in September, a mere five months after it began, in time for the first batch of students as part of the university’s new First Ascent program. The First Ascent program is a weekend for new students to challenge themselves in the elements, explore the wonders of nature and bond with their peers. Events like First Ascent are core to the university’s 4D Experience and emblematic of its commitment to enriching the lives of the campus community.

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