While you were out: On February 8th the SMPS Colorado monthly luncheon provided an in-depth look into the Higher Education Market and its opportunities, impacts, costs and selection processes. The room was completely full with more than 120 attendees representing one of the top five chapter nationwide- SMPS Colorado. As lunch began, tables discussed social media implementation and their favorite platform both personally and professionally. A common theme table wide was to give up Twitter, keep posting on Instagram and pause Facebook for another few weeks. Would you agree?

Representatives from the Higher Education Market include facilitator Andy Neilson and panelists: Cheri Gerou, FAIA, Manager State Buildings Program, Office of the State Architect; David Turnquist, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management, University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus; Thomas E. Goodhew, Architect and Planner, University of Colorado Boulder; and Sean Nesbitt, Director of Facilities, Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Panelists shared their expertise and insight of project funding, the selection process, potential challenges and a few upcoming opportunities in the Denver Metro.

Key Takeaways for Attendees:

  • The process for the State of Colorado to determine and prioritize funding for projects.

  • Preferred project delivery methods: BE CREATIVE!

  • How institutions handle cost escalations - open build concepts or something else creative.

  • Selection processes and what institutions are looking for in architecture, engineering and construction firms: working with teams and selection committees.

  • Listen in on state meetings to learn about funding either in person or online.

Representing the Office of the State Architect, Cheri discussed the projects for the annual Colorado commission selection process. The Governor takes recommended projects from the selection process and proposes them to the joint legislature. From there they determine what projects are funded. During this process, all projects are scored based on controlled maintenance dollars needed. Overall, the state has $30 million in maintenance funded with capital construction around $70 million - what’s really funded is after K-12 is completed.

The AEC Selection Process – What Higher Education Wants

  1. Variety, creativity, maintain budgets and know the client’s design standards and use them.

  2. Teamwork. It is not just a temporary relationship. Each building has a different set of goals, so understand how the AEC group will work, their culture and how they mesh well with the education body.

  3. Great skills for the project are needed-creativity for that team and how they can maintain conflicts and the unknowns. Understanding the diversity of the project and potential challenges is very important.

  4. Double interviews are becoming more popular to make sure all questions are asked and the factors that differentiates the AEC team are known.

Upcoming Opportunities

The University of Colorado Denver and Metro State discussed building a new police station on campus and other old buildings that need to be torn down and rebuilt. By continuing to develop on campus, they are losing water pressure and parking lot space. These problems need to be addressed will need to be addressed in the near future. One firm helped them rebuild the campus services building with an “open build concept” to help save money and used trailers to place people in temporarily. An important thing for the universities is to manage is their construction and maintain an organized schedule so they do not have too much hitting at once. When they have a set budget, creating a build calculator for needs of square feet, based on size of academic needs will be important in maintaining this schedule.

What is Cheri’s hint to staying “in the know” with Higher Education work? Go to the State Meeting or listen in and learn about what is being funded and what projects are in immediate need.Remember- every institution in the state has a building plan for the next 5 years on record and you can see them online, anytime.