The school’s innovation lab, Inworks, provides students with space to work on solving worldwide problems. // © 2015 Samantha Davis Friedman
Feature image (above): The Tivoli-Union Brewery building became a student union in 1994. // © 2015 Samantha Davis Friedman
When people hear University of Colorado, they usually think of the Boulder campus, but there’s another University of Colorado campus — right in the heart of Denver.
University of Colorado Denver, also known as CU Denver, is a unique campus, as it extends right into the city’s downtown. It’s even adjacent to Larimer Square, Denver’s oldest and most historic block. Part traditional campus and part city campus, CU integrates student life into the robust activity of downtown, allowing college students to live and learn right in the heart of Mile High City.
Tivoli Student Union
In its former life, the building that is now Tivoli Student Union was built as Colorado Brewery in 1870. It became Tivoli-Union Brewery in 1901, named for the Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen, Denmark. The brewery shut down in 1966, but it became a student union in 1994 and has served as the hub of student activity ever since. Tivoli was even named No. 9 on Best College Reviews’ 2013 list of 25 best student unions.
9th Street Historic Park
CU sits in an area of Denver known as Auraria, the location of an 1858 mining settlement established along Cherry Creek, across from “Denver City.” In the 1960s, the residents of Auraria were displaced to make room for the university, but the center of campus is home to the oldest restored block of residences in the city, known as 9th Street Historic Park. The park consists of thirteen Victorian cottages and one turn-of-the-century grocery store built between 1872 and 1906. The street was replaced by a greenway, and the houses now serve as campus offices, but the park is a charming reminder of the city's earliest days. Students who can trace their lineage directly back to the original residents of the Auraria settlement receive free tuition.
This campus innovation lab brings together university students and community leaders with the goal of “facilitating the transformation of innovative ideas into tangible realities.” Inworks is designed to find solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems utilizing a state-of-the-art design and rapid prototyping space.
“What distinguishes this space from a ‘maker space’ is that here, people are prototyping ideas for things that actually might make a positive difference in somebody’s life, so this is making it with a purpose,” said John K. Bennett, associate vice chancellor for innovation initiatives.
DENVER SPORTS VENUES
Home to the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche, Pepsi Center is just across the street from CU’s campus. Visitors to the arena, which is known as “The Can,” can learn about how it converts from a hockey ice rink to a basketball court and see its 2,000-pound suspended ceiling sculpture (depicting hockey and basketball players) in action. Tours are offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during summer, and Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during winter.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Sports Authority Field at Mile High stands at an elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level, a characteristic that sets it apart from any other sports venue in the world. With a unique, undulating upper profile, the stadium reflects the Rocky Mountains to the west and Denver skyline to the east. The field is located less than 50 feet from the site of the original Mile High Stadium, one of the most revered stadiums in NFL history. Tours of Sports Authority Field are available Monday through Saturday in the summer and Thursday through Saturday in the fall and spring.
Coors Field in downtown Denver is considered the most prolific offensive ballpark ever created. This is because a baseball travels 9 percent farther at 5,280 feet than at sea level, meaning that that a home run hit 400 feet in sea-level Yankee Stadium would travel 440 feet in Mile High City. In addition to the likelihood of seeing more home runs, fans in the first-base and right-field areas also enjoy spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. Tours of Coors Field are available Monday through Saturday during baseball season, and Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during off-season.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre
Located within a unique transitional zone between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, the 868-acre Red Rocks Park features remarkable sandstone formations and spectacular vistas. Red Rocks Amphitheatre — the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world — is a fantastic place to see a concert.
Dinosaur Ridge is one of the world’s most famous locations for dinosaur fossils. Some of the best-known dinosaurs were found here in 1877 (including stegosaurus, the state fossil of Colorado), igniting a dinosaur "gold rush." Today, visitors to Dinosaur Ridge can see dinosaur bones and footprints embedded into rock formations and fossilized evidence that the area was covered with water 150 million years ago.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Monaco Denver
The 189-room Hotel Monaco Denver is a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown, within walking distance of many of the city’s attractions. This pet-friendly hotel welcomes furry guests and will also loan human visitors a pet goldfish during their stay. In addition, free Wi-Fi access is available to Kimpton Karma Rewards members (it’s free to join), and complimentary morning coffee and wine receptions are offered in the lobby.