Steamboat Springs Boosted by a mild winter, construction on the giant building that soon will stand as the centerpiece of Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus is running three weeks ahead of schedule.
“We should start moving furniture into the building during the first week of July,” Alpine Campus CEO Peter Perhac said Monday afternoon. “The brick is all done. The first floor is all painted. They’re up on the second floor, and the third floor is next.”
Crews on boom lifts worked Monday on the roof of the three-story, 60,000-square-foot building as other crews tackled several projects in the interior.
The pace and progress of the construction continues to impress Perhac and others who have eagerly watched the building transition from a mound of dirt in the summer into its current form.
Perhac said the school will host a grand opening party for the building Aug. 23.
Not long after that celebration, he said Bogue and Willett halls, like Monson Hall before them, will be razed to accommodate an additional parking lot and green space.
While the ongoing construction and the scheduled opening of the new academic and administrative facility is generating excitement on campus, the scheduled demolition of the two halls that were erected in 1966 is generating mixed, bittersweet feelings.
Funky, old buildings
Sitting in his Bristol Hall office that has sweeping views of Mount Werner and the new academic building, longtime CMC professor George Bagwell said Monday that he still hopes at least one of the old buildings can be saved.
“I wouldn’t do it,” Bagwell said about the planned demolition of both buildings. “We made those old buildings do everything from cook lunches to house classrooms, dorms and offices. I’m quite sure we could find a use for them in the future, even if it’s only for storage.”
Bagwell, a former CEO of the campus, had his office in Willett Hall from 1982 to 1992. He said his opposition to the demolition is not based on a desire to preserve the memory and history of the buildings, but rather on the potential use of the buildings in the future.
“The day will come when we’ll need the extra space,” he said.
But CMC officials said to keep the buildings standing, the college would have to make costly improvements to bring them up to building codes.
“They’re not functional for education,” Perhac said after acknowledging their deep connection to the community. “They’re outdated and they’re not economical.”
Perhac said Monson, Bogue and Willett halls together totaled 75,000 square feet. He said even after they are all replaced by the new 60,000-square-foot academic center, the campus will have slightly more classroom space than it did before the demolitions because some offices in Bristol Hall will be converted into classrooms.
Still, Brian Hoza, the Alpine Campus’ dean of student affairs, predicted the college’s growth will produce a need for even more classroom space in the future.
“We feel some of that pressure already, and we expect that to continue and increase,” Hoza said, noting the college currently rents a couple of classroom spaces off campus. “Initially, I think we’ll be doing more to squeeze more class sections into different times of the day, but I don’t think (renting additional off-campus classroom space) is very far into the future.”
Perhac said the new facility was originally proposed to be 40,000 square feet, but the anticipated student growth from the college’s new bachelor’s degree program demanded a bigger building.
“I’m still amazed by the structure and the way it sits on the mountain,” Perhac said. “The views from the third floor are incredible. I’m hoping some movie company picks this building to be a in a feature film some day.”
Denise Roach, Perhac’s executive assistant, said the new building will continue to do what the old buildings have done for decades.
“Although it is sad to see Bogue and Willett halls come down, having a new academic center that is state of the art, silver LEED (certified) extends Lucy Bogue’s dream of a college in our community,” Roach wrote in an email. “It’s a college dream! Our college will enrich the lives of this and future generations.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com