Colorado School of Mines (CSM) is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied sciences. In 2000 the school's mission was reinterpreted as a commitment to the discovery and recovery of earth's resources, their conversion to materials and energy, and their utilization in advanced processes and products, as well as the study of economic and social systems necessary to ensure the prudent use of these resources in a sustainable, global society. CSM engaged Sasaki for a research park feasibility study and, subsequently, the design of the Earth-Energy Institute. In keeping with CSM's mission, Sasaki's planning strategies centered on sustainable practices and ideas.
CSM is located in the Denver-Aurora area, which is host several other leaders in energy research. Sasaki studied the feasibility of developing a research park on the university campus, which helped the university's leaders assess the strengths of CSM in the context of its regional and national peers. Sasaki then evaluated seven sites in terms of financial, institutional, and administrative risks of off- versus on-campus growth. It concluded that on-campus development was clearly more favorable for attracting university-affiliated research because of the proximity to existing research activities.
As a result of the study's findings, CSM committed to developing the Earth-Energy Institute (EEI), the mission of which is to advance critical cross-disciplinary thinking in earth and energy sciences through incubator companies and collaboration with peer institutions. Sasaki continued with CSM to develop a detailed program for EEI, which was conceived of as a multi-phased project to be implemented over approximately nine years. EEI is intended to serve as the physical and intellectual meeting place of academic, research, corporate, and outreach programs regarding energy production and distribution, resource development, the earth and its environments, policy, and social license. In addition, EEI will serve as the anchor for CSM's research activities that are part of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory.
The design objective for EEI is an architectural expression in harmony with existing campus architecture, while suited to its unique uses. Buildings will fit within the city's fifty foot height limit and will feature façades and landscape architecture appropriate to the setting. In addition, taking a cue from some of the older campus architecture, the width of the buildings will be relatively narrow, allowing for daylight to penetrate the floor plate and reducing the need for artificial lighting.
The project's landscape plan provides for a high-quality, walkable setting in which pedestrians' and bicyclists' safety is central. Lawns and courtyards will be consistent with the overall campus and will incorporate natural and locally available materials. The central open space will feature rainwater capture.
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