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CMC’s new campus takes shape

Jeremy Heiman

Accompanied by a symphony of hammering, power tools and workmen’s radios and the growl of heavy equipment outside, Colorado Mountain College’s new Aspen campus building is taking shape.Roughly L-shaped, the 34,000-square-foot building is sited on the northeast side of Highway 82, downvalley from the Aspen Airport Business Center. The structure’s distinctive shed roofs are now in place, and its walls are partly sheathed in plywood and partly covered with plastic, printed with logos and flapping in the breeze.Giant yellow Tonka Toys rumble around in back and the building is guarded by a row of parked trucks and trailers and a small platoon of Port-O-Potties. A horde of framers, drywallers, electricians, plumbers and laborers measure, cut, bolt, screw and hammer in the building’s still-skeletal interior.Workers broke ground for the project last fall, and construction is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 30, 2000, said Ann Harris, dean of the Aspen campus. Spring classes are expected to be held in the new building, starting in mid-January.The total budget for the building is $5.5 million. That sounds pretty pricey, Harris noted, until one considers that the new Aspen Elementary School cost $11 million.”In comparison, it’s pretty cost effective, I think,” she said.The two acres of land on which the building stands were purchased by the college for $1.2 million from John McBride, who is developing the adjacent North 40 housing project. The land on which CMC’s present Maroon Creek building stands is leased from the Aspen School District, and that lease expires in 2001.The approaching expiration of that lease is part of the impetus behind the new building. But the new building will have a lot of things that the old one lacks, especially space.The building’s two wings extend more or less south and east. The main entrance to the building is on the west side, near the elbow of the “L”.Around the entry, the lower level will be walled mainly with glass, said Dean Anderson, project supervisor for Carbondale B&H General Contracting. Now, plywood covers the whole area, leaving a small opening for a door.Inside the entry, the lobby is two stories high, open and airy. Huge laminated wood beams support the walkway above the entry and the ceiling above that.To the left, on the north side of the lobby, a large customer service window opens into the registration office, roughed out with drywall. Administrative assistant Cindy Bingham, measuring for furniture, said that the office is small, but will be more efficient than the current registration area.Behind the registration office, accessed by a hallway, are administrative offices and a larger career-counseling office, which will have a separate testing area. Around to the right is a staff break room, something not found in CMC’s Maroon Creek building.”We all pretty much eat at our desks, now, Harris said. The remaining administrative offices, including Harris’ own, will be directly above, on the second floor.Outside, at the apex of the building’s L, steel scaffolding stands in an area which will later become a patio. Glass will allow a view of the patio from the lobby and the corridor extending to the east.South of the lobby, steel studs and massive steel girders frame what will be the college’s largest classroom. It will also serve as a meeting room and art gallery. This is another badly needed space.”We really don’t have a large room now that can hold 50 or more people,” Harris explained.Beyond the large classroom, to the south, is the ceramics area. Two gas kilns and several electric kilns will be just outside, next to walled storage areas for snow blowers, lawn mowers and gardening tools.The ceramics studio area is larger than the present studio, because of the demand for pottery classes, according to Harris. CMC Aspen’s most popular classes are art classes, computer classes and English as a second language.Several computer classrooms line the hallway extending east from the lobby. Every room is wired for power supplies and network access. A “closet” off one room is actually a three-story-high network wiring corridor.Another amenity not found in the current CMC building is the student-faculty lounge, overlooking the patio. Large enough to accommodate four small tables, it has an alcove which will accommodate four Internet-connected computers and another alcove with a sink and a microwave oven.On the lower level, below the entry, will be the interactive video systems (IVS) room. This will permit students to take classes taught at other CMC campuses, connected by video.”There might be a faculty member from Steamboat teaching upper-level physics,” Harris said, “and we might have three students who are interested.” IVS can also be used for inter-campus administrative meetings, she noted.To the south on the lower level is the space that will be occupied by Aspen Ballet. The organization will have dressing rooms, offices, a small dance studio and a large dance studio.On the second floor, overlooking the lobby, two-by-six temporary railings will be replaced with permanent steel rails.In the south wing, CMC’s own dance studio is an expansive room with large windows gathering views of Aspen’s ski areas and the Elk Range beyond.”I think it has the best views in the building,” Harris said.General-use classrooms in the east wing fill out the floor plan of second floor. Two small offices to be used by CMC’s numerous part-time faculty are there, too.Ceilings slope off to the north, and high windows to the south will gather sunlight in some of the rooms.


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