Author: Kelsey Contouris
If youâ€™re like me, the most familiar thing about the Monfort Quad is the grassy rectangle itself â€“ but what about the buildings around the Quad? Thereâ€™s Clark B on the west side, Plant Sciences on the north, Animal Sciences on the south, and that huge building on the east side with the waterfall: the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building.
Since the buildingâ€™s name is not visible from the Quad and I never had a good reason to venture to the other side of it, I hadnâ€™t known its purpose until a friend mentioned it. According to the architectural timeline in Johnson Hall, the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building was constructed in 1994 and is home to the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and various other research labs.
Before entering the building, I admired the distinctive waterfall on its west side.Â Itâ€™s no wonder that the landscape architecture department is housed there. While no water was running, I could easily picture it cascading down the side of the large cylindrical tower, accentuating the landscaping below and bringing to life the concrete â€œriverâ€ that winds through the sidewalk.
Coincidentally, the landscape architecture portion of the building is the first part I encountered. Located on the first floor of the buildingâ€™s north side, the area features several large studios that remind me of the art classrooms Iâ€™ve seen in high school, yet twice as large. Impressively detailed architectural drawings littered a number of metal racks hanging from the ceiling, while drafting equipment filled the much of the table space below. Seeing such enormous studios makes me question why I also found a landscape architecture area in Shepardson, so I may have some further investigating to do.
And, like Shepardson, the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building also has its fair share of locked doors â€“ but these are locked for a good reason. Throughout much of the building, I encountered warnings of dangerous laboratory equipment, required safety attire, quarantined soils and even radioactive material. This all told me one thing: serious scientific business happens here.
However, not all parts of the building pose potential safety hazards. When I visited the third floor via the main staircase on the south side, I encountered a space that reminded me of a childrenâ€™s play room in a nature and science museum. A tiny solar system hung in the far left corner, while six small, round tables each featured a different area of discovery. When I looked farther down the hall and saw a sign for The Little Shop of Physics, the playroomâ€™s existence made a lot more sense. (Iâ€™m assuming itâ€™s a secondary location of The Little Shop of Physics because I believe there is also one in the Engineering Building.)
Even though there was not much else of note in that labyrinth of laboratories, Iâ€™m glad I made a point to explore the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building â€“ the east side of the Quad is now demystified. After seeing so many laboratories in just one building on campus, I now understand why CSU is well known for its scientific research. While CSUâ€™s older buildings hold universityâ€™s history, its newer buildings hold much of its potential.