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Tivoli Quadrangle
Auraria Higher Education Center, Denver

Wenk Associates, Inc. -- Landscape Architects/Planners (Project Lead)



The Tivoli Quadrangle at the Auraria Higher Education Center in Denver transformed a space previously unavailable for public use into a vibrant park that enhances the connection between campus and the city, creating an integrated area serving students, residents and visitors. The inset photo shows a large gathering of family and friends for a University of Colorado Denver graduation.

Auraria is not your typical college campus. Located adjacent to downtown Denver, it is shared by three separate and distinct institutions of higher learning: Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and the University of Colorado Denver. The Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC) manages the shared services, facilities and property.

The 2012 AHEC campus master plan acknowledged the need for "place-making" within the campus community. One key location identified was the Tivoli Quadrangle, a central area directly adjacent to the historic Tivoli Student Union.

The vision of the 4-acre Tivoli Quad is a shared campus community space designed to support special events, recreation and education. AHEC worked closely with the design team, led by Wenk Associates of Denver, to transform the fenced-in athletic fields adjacent to the Tivoli Building that were previously unavailable for public use, into a vibrant park that would serve the Auraria campus and the greater Denver community. The multicomponent area consists of a tiered patio; a grass quad; peaceful areas with seating and trees; a large amphitheater; roadway/streetscape improvements that create greater connectivity; a two-way, separated bike lane that connects the north and south sides of campus; utility and stormwater infrastructure; site and activity lighting; and site furnishings/amenities.

Tivoli Quad now serves as a place to showcase student talents, partner with outside groups to sponsor events and concerts, and host graduation and campus festivals.


Ipe decks "floating" within the rainwater garden offer a shady, peaceful gathering place, and great views of Denver's downtown skyline.

The quad supports Denver as a 'Bicycle City' through the creation of a new dedicated bicycle/pedestrian way. The connection improves on-campus pedestrian/bicycle circulation, as well as bus and vehicular circulation. Pedestrian and bicycle crossings at Auraria Parkway are improved through the addition of a new signalized intersection at 11th Street. Additionally, the improved public space provides new bike connections to several district-wide bike paths including the Cherry Creek Bike Trail and the Platte Valley Trail system. A large stormwater garden defines one edge of the quadrangle lawn. The garden cleans pollutants from stormwater runoff, demonstrating the campus's commitment to sustainable design practices, while also providing a destination for an informal, outdoor classroom or gathering space.

Challenges: Funding
As with many initiatives on a campus, the greatest challenge was funding. Yet, it was recognized that this place was vital in creating a strong sense of community.

The Student Advisory Committee to the Auraria Board leads a tri-institutional student driven initiative that went to a referendum vote in April 2015. The result was a $5 fee per student per semester to support the project. On behalf of the Auraria campus constituency, AHEC also secured grant funds from the Auraria Foundation Board of Directors to contribute an additional $3.3 million toward development of the quad.


The seating area pictured here sits within the building footprint thought to be the location of Colortado's first public school in the late 1800s. In those historic days, students sat in this area on long wood pews. The placement of the 3 large sandstone seat blocks commemorates that history. The 'Colorado Buff' sandstone was sourced from a quarry in Loveland, Colo. A shortcut, sand-based Kentucky Bluegrass Sod Blend was specified in the quad for its infiltration ability.

Historical Significance
The Tivoli Quad is at the location of one of Denver's first neighborhoods. Wenk Associates aimed to blend and provide interpretive significance to the site. Custom hand railings and beer garden fencing details, along with a custom blue paver color, integrates with the historical Tivoli Student Union. Rectangular concrete bands and deck patterns denote the outlines of historical structures and pay tribute to the scale of the city in the late 1800s. One of the rectangular outlines commemorates Colorado's first public school and is denoted with three large stone benches.

Role of the Landscape Architect
Wenk Associates, planners and landscape architects, led the multidisciplinary design-build team for site improvements from master planning through construction. The team consisted of civil, transportation, structural and electrical engineering, along with architecture and irrigation. Wenk led the detailed development and prepared construction documents for site circulation, stormwater management, site lighting, landscape and hardscape spaces, as well as building entrance modifications into the historical Tivoli Student Union. Wenk also worked closely with the client and led discussions and presentations with the Auraria Higher Education Design Review Board to ensure project success.

Team List
Landscape Architects/Planners - Project Lead
Wenk Associates, Inc., Denver
Bill Wenk, Principal
Greg Dorolek, Principal
J. C. Culwell, Project Manager
Kelli Schwab, Landscape Designer
Bryan Peterson, Landscape Designer
Civil/Structural Engineer: Martin/Martin, Inc., Lakewood

As seen in LASN magazine, June 2018.

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August 18, 2019, 12:59 am PDT

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