Clark Building to receive expansion and transformation
By Beth Etter
Published May 6, 2022
After more than 50 years, the most heavily utilized academic building on the Fort Collins main campus is getting a makeover.
On April 25, CSU and the College of Liberal Arts received news that the state legislature and governor approved $38 million to be spent on an expansion and transformation of the Clark Building, where 99% of students will take at least one class during their academic career, regardless of their major.
Built in 1968, the Clark Building houses nine departments within the College of Liberal Arts (Sociology, History, Anthropology & Geography, Journalism and Media Communication, Political Science, Economics, Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts, International Studies, Languages, Literatures and Culture) as well as the Department of Psychology in the College of Natural Sciences.
The $38 million is the first installment of what is anticipated to be a three-phase partnership with the state (with yearly approvals from the legislature). The total cost of the transformation is estimated at $120 million to $130 million and will add space to Clark A and Clark C by building “up and out” on the north faces of both buildings, as well as renovating the interior of Clark C, addressing aging infrastructure and creating spaces that foster interdisciplinary collaborations and community.
“The future of education will be represented by a transformed Clark,” said Benjamin Withers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Students learn and faculty teach differently than 10, 20, 50 years ago. The building will reflect and draw on that newness.”
The revitalized Clark will include new private and shared spaces, the newest technologies in storage and layout for anthropology and history, and spaces for collaborative learning and scholarship.
“The pandemic showed us new ways of teaching and learning – we don’t want to lose those insights,” Withers said. “The building will reflect that and reflect the future.”
In the first phase of the transformation, the College of Liberal Arts will work with Facilities Management on a request for proposals process to determine the architect and builder, then move forward on the schematics and plan, with a goal of breaking ground in late 2023 or summer 2024.
Since 2018, Withers has been working with people across the campus and with the CSU System to prioritize this infrastructure project. “This multi-year project signals the University’s belief in the core mission of the College and will attract future generations of students and faculty,” he said. “I am grateful to a multitude of people, including Bruce Ronda and Alex Bernasek, then-student Anthony Taylor (‘18), Shelly Carroll and Mike Rush in Facilities, and the CSU administration for providing the research, guidance and support needed to bring Clark to this point.”
Private support will provide an additional $11 million to $12 million.
“We thank Gov. Jared Polis and the members of the state legislature, particularly the Senate and House members of the Capital Construction Committee, who toured Clark in the summer of 2021 and have endorsed and funded our plans for Clark,” Withers said.
“Renovating the Clark Building is an investment by the State of Colorado into the success of future generations of Colorado State students, and that means it’s an investment in the next generation of Colorado’s workforce. We are grateful to Gov. Polis, the Colorado Senate and House, and the Joint Budget Committee, for making this project a priority. We cannot wait to experience the rewards that will come with upgrading our busiest academic building. This renovation is in line with our Courageous Strategic Transformation and will allow us to offer students a high-quality education while intelligently improving our physical space to meet future needs. I know generations of Rams who attended classes in Clark that will smile when they learn of this wonderful news.” – President Joyce McConnell
About the Clark Building
The Andrew G. Clark Building, named for a mathematics professor, is an academic workhorse that generates more than $100 million each year in graduate and undergraduate tuition revenue. The building is 255,000 square feet, takes up 3.6 acres and is constructed of poured-in-place concrete. It contains several large lecture halls, other classrooms, academic department offices, laboratories, computer labs and the College of Liberal Arts dean’s office.
Along with Morgan Library and the Lory Student Center, the Clark Building sits at the heart of Colorado State University’s main campus and is central to its academic mission. A transformed and expanded Clark will benefit all campus programs and majors, by supporting growth through the provision of general education courses done by the College of Liberal Arts.
- Clark is the most heavily used academic building on the Fort Collins main campus
- Clark serves 70% of undergraduate students in any given year
- 99% of students will take at least one class in Clark during their academic career, regardless of major
- Seven of eight colleges teach classes in Clark for students in majors in all eight colleges
- Over $5.5 million in funded research is generated by faculty across three colleges with offices and labs in Clark
Additionally, Clark houses five Ph.D. programs with nationally ranked programs in Political Science, Sociology and Economics. These social science programs produce 17 doctoral students each year and an average of $1.5 million in external research. Revitalized spaces will allow expansion of these research efforts and much-needed lab and collections spaces for CLA’s most recent Ph.D. program in Anthropology & Geography. With improved facilities the College expects to double faculty research and increase Ph.D. production to 20 each year.
For CNS’s Psychology Department, a transformed Clark would house new neuroimaging and magnetoencephalology facilities and Psychology’s clinical programs, the Psychological Services Center and the Addictions Counseling Program.
Clark Revitalization Process
To prepare for a proposal to put Clark on the list for funding, former Associate Deans Bruce Ronda and Alex Bernasek and former Director of Development Tonya Malik-Carson were instrumental in facilitating the following:
- 2017 and 2019 – Meetings with the volunteer Liberal Arts Development Council
- January and July 2018 – Listening sessions to gather experiences of working and learning in Clark and gather suggestions for improvement
- December 2018 and January 2019 – Stakeholder committee discussions that informed a final report for the Master Plan Committee (in July 2019)
- May 2019 – A facilitated conversation with department chairs, Clark occupants and college representatives
- December 2019 – A presentation to the Board of Governors
- February 2020 – A session with CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment to discuss needs and opportunities
- 2018 – 2020 – Meetings with the University’s Master Plan Committee
- 2018 – 2021 – Discussions with Facilities Management architects and designers
- July 2021 – Tour of Clark by the Capital Construction Committee of the Colorado State Legislature