Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Forestry and Natural Resources Buildings

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May 082013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

If there’s one thing I learned from this week’s exploration, it’s that bridges make buildings infinitely more awesome. I originally set out to explore Forestry, but when I found the second-floor bridge to Natural Resources, I couldn’t resist. And seeing as this is my last post of the semester, I figured the bigger the exploration the better.

A large variety of leaves and branches are on display near Forestry's main entrance.

A large variety of leaves and branches are on display near Forestry’s main entrance.

With the trees around campus finally sprouting their leaves, it felt like a good time to check out the forestry building. I went in through the main entrance off of West Drive and was greeted by a shockingly new space for a building constructed in 1937. The walls were painted a pleasant, soft green; the hallway floors were done in a shiny, beige wood with stone tile running along the edges; round, modern light fixtures hung from the crown-molded ceiling down the length of the main hallway. This was quite possibly one of the newest old spaces on campus that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing.

This second-floor bridge is a convenient way to travel between Forestry and Natural Resources.

This second-floor bridge is a convenient way to travel between Forestry and Natural Resources.

Immediately to my left and right were hallways lined with tiled squares displaying the preserved leaves of probably a couple hundred plant species. After admiring some of these, I ventured down the main hallway. Old black and white photos hung on the walls in sharp contrast with a large TV screen displaying department information.

As I was busy taking pictures, someone came in through the front doors. Fearing that he would ask me what I was doing or if I was lost, I scurried around the nearest corner and happened upon the basement steps.

Not wanting to turn around and look more lost, I decided I might as well check it out. It was a strange space that seemed more like a basement you would find in a normal house. The ceilings were much lower than in the rest of the building, and they were crowded with an unsettling array of pipes that led into a room with even more unsettling building guts. The rest of the space served as storage.

I crept back up to the first floor and found a stairway leading to the second. These hallways looked a bit older, with the exception of the nice wood and tile floors. I was surprised to find that even the classrooms in Forestry looked newly renovated.

The second floor was unexciting until I remembered that from the outside I had seen a bridge connecting Forestry with the Warner College of Natural Resources. A woman I saw in the hallway pointed me in that direction.

Eagerly, I walked through the two metal doors out onto the bridge. The north side had windows, but the south side was open and provided an excellent view of Sherwood Forest and the sidewalk below. I drank in the fresh air for a moment and continued on into Natural Resources.

The main entrance area of Natural Resources has many earthy qualities.

The main entrance area of Natural Resources has many earthy qualities.

I explored the second floor for a bit, noting that the classrooms looked much older than those in Forestry. The walls were covered with all sorts of maps and posters, and display cases were filled with weathered equipment and geological artifacts.

I went up to the third floor through one of the cavernous concrete stairwells. It was up here that I got the best view of the front entryway. The space is somewhat difficult to describe – industrial, yet earthy. Cold, yet inviting. I think I got this feeling from the concrete coupled with the more natural elements. A small garden and pond sat beneath the gray, twisting staircase; sunlight filled the space from skylights up above; dark wood covered some walls, while others were covered in jagged stone bricks. A collection of tables and chairs sat below, and I realized that this would be a great place to come and relax.

I toured a few more hallways and decided to end my double exploration. Judging Forestry and Natural Resources from the outside, I had never expected to find what I did on the inside. The same has been true for all of the buildings I explored this semester. They’re all on the same campus, yet so wildly different from one another. The best part is that even though I’ve seen so many buildings, there are still so many left to discover.

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Visual Arts Building

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Apr 242013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

It’s gray. Dreary. Dull.

From the outside, that is.

The west entrance of the Visual Arts building

The west entrance of the Visual Arts building

The Visual Arts building may not appear to be the ideal place for fostering imagination, but the inside tells a different story. Just walking through the main stretch of the building, you’ll find an impressive array of artwork on display – drawings, paintings, sculptures, pottery, photography, you name it.

Constructed in 1974, Visual Arts stands on the south side of Pitkin Street across from Braiden Hall. The sprawling complex is home to a number of classrooms, studios and workshops where students can build and master their artistic skills. Having enjoyed art classes in high school, I was particularly excited for this week’s exploration.

Colorful pipes run along the ceiling in the main hallway.

Colorful pipes run along the ceiling in the main hallway.

I entered the building through the west doors as several other students were making their way to 8 a.m. classes. Again realizing that I would look like a strange tourist for taking pictures in front of everyone, I cut into a hallway off to my right until traffic died down. It wasn’t the most spectacular first impression – just a bunch of lockers, offices and some studios. It actually reminded me very much of the art hallway in the high school I attended freshman year.

This thought struck me again as I toured other parts of the building – the slanted skylights, exposed pipes zigzagging across the ceiling, quaint courtyards outside and numerous projects lining the walls were all eerily familiar. If my high school’s art department were to take over the rest of the building, this is what it would look like.

Paintings line the walls.

Paintings line the walls.

As I made my way down the main corridor, I noticed a sign directing students to room F113, which, oddly enough, is where one of my journalism classes will be next semester. I followed the signs past some more offices and classrooms only to find an average-sized lecture hall, pointlessly far away from the rest of my classes next semester. At least I can look forward to admiring some of the artwork while I’m in the building.

I continued down the main stretch, snapping photos of some paintings and pottery. I passed a small counter called the Sova Cafe, which advertised bagels, cookies, coffee and more. I imagined what the place must look like on a normal afternoon – students hanging out on the hallway benches or lounging in the courtyards outside, probably drawing in sketchbooks as they have lunch. Being an art student in this building must be pretty nice.

Even the landscaping is artsy.

Even the landscaping is artsy.

I eventually came to another entrance area facing Pitkin Street. An old, red telephone booth stood by the doors, as well as a wiry sculpture of a human body. As I kept walking down the hall, I saw a few weathered pieces of art equipment and more projects filling display cases. I came to the east doors and turned right into a hallway containing more drawings, lockers and studios. I was amazed at how tall the studio doors were – they practically went up to the ceiling!

After I took a few more photos, my exploration was over. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a vibrant, artsy environment inside that cold, gray brick exterior. If you have time to check out the visual arts building, or if you end up with a miscellaneous lecture there, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with what you see.

Everyday Explorations: The CSU Bakeshop

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Apr 162013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

Two to four hundred dozen. That’s the number of cookies the Colorado State University Bakeshop doles out to campus dining centers each day, in addition to a wide variety of cakes, pies, doughnuts and other sugary treats. And it all happens from a fairly obscure location – the back of Edwards Hall.

The bakeshop has a separate room for making gluten-free goods.

The bakeshop has a separate room for making gluten-free goods.

As a freshman who eats (and works) at the dining centers, I’m quite familiar with the vast quantity of available desserts. Since I’ve always been curious about where they come from, I finally decided to set up a quick tour with the bakeshop manager, Joan Smith. So while this exploration wasn’t as everyday as the rest, I still found it equally fascinating.

Bakeshop employees prepare dozens of hoagie rolls for Braiden.

Bakeshop employees prepare dozens of hoagie rolls for Braiden’s kitchen.

As you would expect, the first thing that hit me upon entering the bakeshop was the delightful, sugary smell. The second thing was the flurry of activity – just about every area of the kitchen had a staff member or two prepping a different mixture or dough. I found Smith and she began showing me around.

We first passed by a station where banana cream pie was being made, which I noticed in Ram’s Horn later that day. According to Smith, everything goes out fresh each morning – employees arrive as early as 2 a.m. to begin baking breads.

We then stopped by a student hourly who was placing cookie dough onto baking sheets. Seeing as the dining halls have a seemingly endless supply of cookies, I had always wondered whether or not the bakeshop makes them from scratch. Not surprisingly, they don’t – the pre-portioned dough comes from Otis Spunkmeyer and gets baked at the bakeshop (or even at the dining halls if they happen to run out). Because the dining halls order so many cookies, Smith said, the bakeshop itself wouldn’t be able to handle making them all from scratch. They do, however, make some cookies themselves, such as the popular hippie cookie (which happens to be a favorite of mine) sold at Ram’s Horn Express.

Smith showed me a number of other baked goods being made. There were hoagie rolls being prepared that would be sent to Braiden’s dining center, large chocolate chip muffins to be sent to Ram’s Horn Express and T-Dex, as well as cookie bars, tiramisu cakes and chocolate cake – all from scratch. And all of this gets done by a total of nine student hourlies and nine state classified employees.

Freshly baked tiramisu cakes

Freshly baked tiramisu cakes

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Smith said.

She also told me that students studying food and nutrition sciences occasionally do practicums at the bakeshop, and she said she feels privileged to provide such an experience.

I feel privileged myself just being able to get a firsthand look at where CSU’s delectable treats are crafted. I had never imagined that such a large operation could take place in the back portion of Edwards, let alone practically in secret – I’ve asked several of my friends if they knew where the bakeshop was, and most of them had no idea. But from the wee hours of the morning all throughout the year, CSU Bakeshop employees work their magic to provide campus with its fresh, sugary staples.

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Natural & Environmental Sciences Building

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Apr 102013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

If you’re like me, the most familiar thing about the Monfort Quad is the grassy rectangle itself – but what about the buildings around the Quad? There’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.

The waterfall on the west side of the building

The waterfall on the west side of the building

Since the building’s name is not visible from the Quad and I never had a good reason to venture to the other side of it, I hadn’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.

A landscape architecture studio

A landscape architecture studio

Before entering the building, I admired the distinctive waterfall on its west side.  It’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 “river” 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 building’s north side, the area features several large studios that remind me of the art classrooms I’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 – 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 children’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 playroom’s existence made a lot more sense. (I’m assuming it’s a secondary location of The Little Shop of Physics because I believe there is also one in the Engineering Building.)

The "play room" on the third floor

The “play room” on the third floor

Even though there was not much else of note in that labyrinth of laboratories, I’m glad I made a point to explore the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building – 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 CSU’s older buildings hold university’s history, its newer buildings hold much of its potential.

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s Shepardson Building

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Apr 042013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

With a large portion of Colorado State’s academic buildings being located in the Center Avenue corridor from Engineering to Yates, it’s easy to forget about the buildings on the east side of campus that show the university’s true age. This week’s exploration took me to one of these older structures: the Shepardson Building.

Home to the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Shepardson Building is located on University Avenue just east of the Plant Sciences Building. Charles N. Shepardson, after whom the building is named, graduated from CSU in 1917 and taught animal husbandry (the practice of breeding and raising livestock) at CSU from 1920 to 1928. He died in 1975.

In comparison to Johnson Hall, the last building I explored, the Shepardson Building is much more spacious inside and far less confusing to navigate. Like many of the old buildings on campus, stepping inside seems to bring you decades into the past.

I entered Shepardson through two heavy wooden front doors into a hallway that spanned the width of the building. The opposite wall contained quite a few doors – bathroom doors, custodial doors, office doors, mysterious unmarked doors, and finally what I was looking for – stair doors.

Old desks crowd part of the hallway on the second floor.

Old desks crowd part of the hallway on the second floor.

The stairwell struck me as very large. Atop the first half-set of stairs was a door to a tiny balcony overlooking the east side of the Monfort Quad area. Unfortunately, it was locked – cool balconies always seem to be there just to tease people. I continued up to the second floor and found a hallway much like the first, yet this one was far more interesting.

Much of the second floor appeared to be dedicated to miscellaneous furniture storage, but as I walked farther down the hall, I discovered that it also must be home to the landscape architecture department. Stunningly detailed models and drawings lined the walls – there were cardboard designs of water features, spiny wooden jellyfish sculptures and various other futuristic-looking pieces. It all seemed so out of place in such an old building, let alone in the agriculture building.

A model of a jellyfish sculpture

A model of a jellyfish sculpture.

Having been impressed with the second floor of Shepardson, I figured I might as well check out the third. Sadly, I encountered a locked door at the top of the stairs with a note giving numbers to call if you needed to be let in. Not wanting to be a nuisance, I decided to explore the basement instead.

When I entered the basement from the east set of stairs, I found another area of furniture storage with a few random locked doors. Since the middle of the basement was some kind of research lab (also locked), I had to go up to the first floor to get to the west stairs and back to the basement. I encountered more locked doors in the main section of the basement, and when I turned to go back upstairs I saw a spooky white door with a screen leading to the dark space under the stairs. Hoping to find something mysterious and exciting, I got out a flashlight and looked through the screen – just boxes and pipes.

The locked door leading to a storage area under the stairs

The locked door leading to a storage area under the stairs.

Having seen all that I had access to, I walked outside to go to my first class of the day. I felt sad after seeing that so much of the space in Shepardson seemed left to storage and basically forgotten. However, it’s an exciting prospect – if the same is true for all of the old buildings on campus, we essentially have a treasure trove of history right in our backyard. I can walk into almost any building and find the past preserved within its walls – so long as the doors aren’t locked.

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s S. Arthur Johnson Hall

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Mar 282013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

Take a walk around Colorado State University’s famous Oval and you will see some of the oldest structures on campus. Each building has its own story, and like the books in the library, they preserve decades and decades of history. My most recent exploration took me to one of the more peculiar of such buildings: Johnson Hall.

Located on the southeast corner of the Oval, Johnson Hall was built in 1935 and originally housed the Student Union. Its namesake, S. Arthur Johnson, was the first Dean of Students and an entomology professor. The building is now home to several administrative offices and classrooms.

I had always been curious about Johnson Hall. Its architecture resembles few other buildings on campus – the rounded portions of the exterior, arching doorways and castle-like appearance makes it stand out from its Oval counterparts.

The south entrance of Johnson Hall

The south entrance of Johnson Hall

I first entered Johnson Hall from the south side, which is where signs direct students to go if they are looking for Room 222. I was greeted by a somewhat odd commons area. The scattered stone benches looked better suited for the outdoors, as did the roofed, window-like structure jutting out from the wall separating the commons and a small classroom.

The main focal point of the commons, however, is a sprawling timeline mural on the north wall that details the origins of CSU’s most significant buildings, from the humble Claim Building erected in 1874 to the Rocky Mountain Regional Bio-containment Lab constructed in 2007. I stopped for a while and studied the timeline, taking pictures of the plaques and peering into the university’s rich architectural history. I urge you to go take a look at it if you’re interested in when and why much of CSU was developed.

The Johnson Commons

The south commons area

While I was in the commons, I figured I might as well see what was so special about Room 222, considering the prominent signage outside and in. Unsure if a class was in session, I opened the door cautiously. Luckily, the room was empty. And dark. And massive – much more so than I had imagined. And, unlike most large lecture halls, it was flat. I shot the best photo I could considering the lack of light and went back out into the commons.

The end of the dark, creepy hallway

The end of the dark, creepy hallway

On the west side of the commons I saw a doorway leading to the restrooms. I entered it, and to my right was a long hallway so dark that I could barely make out the signs on the doors. Slightly creeped-out and armed with only the flash of my camera, I made my way through it. The hallway opened up into an area that looked like it had been untouched for years – light from the single window exposed dusty cabinets, while the opposite wall was littered with the remains of old posters. The hallway seemed to lead to a dead end – a random half-door atop a small set of stairs. Thoroughly confused and afraid of getting lost, I decided it was time to leave the dark hallway and see what I could find on the north side of the building.

Unsure of how to access the north side from the interior of Johnson Hall, I went outside and walked around the building. Upon going in and seeing doorways to several offices and hallways leading to classrooms, I felt more at ease. That changed, however, when I started to venture up the stairs.

The narrow, twisting stairway took me to the second floor, which opened up to an office-like space. Not wanting to confuse the guy at the desk with my tourist-like photography, I quickly left and continued up the stairs. The third floor had some restrooms and a door that led to a space overlooking the office-like area. Surprisingly though, the stairs kept going. I followed them until they led me to nothing but a mysterious door – cracked open, yet fitted with a heavy-duty lock. In hindsight, I wish I had tried to peer inside, but my uneasiness got the best of me again and I made my way back to the first floor.

The locked door at the top of the stairs

The locked door at the top of the stairs

Aside from somehow finding another entrance to Room 222, there was not much else to see in Johnson Hall. I’m sure there are more discoveries lurking in its dark rooms and passageways, but that is an exploration for another day (and a braver student). I look forward to venturing through more of CSU’s oldest buildings – especially Ammons Hall, considering the spooky rumors I’ve heard.

Maybe I’ll take a friend with me on that one.

Everyday Explorations: CSU’s William E. Morgan Library

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Mar 212013

Author: Kelsey Contouris

I still remember the first time I visited the Morgan Library – a vast, furniture-filled maze of bookshelves preserving decades of knowledge and history in one massive, modernized building. I was in awe. The wonder stayed with me each time I came back, venturing farther into the library’s depths and discovering more and more that it had to offer.

After being at CSU for more than a semester, I feel like I know the library fairly well. Maybe not every nook and cranny, but I’ve stumbled upon a number of tucked-away areas seemingly unknown to the rest of the student body – especially at 7:30 in the morning. Nonetheless, the Morgan Library continues to surprise me.

I recently decided to do some exploring on the south side of the library where the other main staircase is located. The first floor being no more than textbooks and reference materials, I walked up to the second floor to see what new treasures I could uncover.

In many of my library adventures, I’ve noticed that the best discoveries come from walking between the bookshelves rather than through the main walkways. Upon reaching the second floor, I decided to do just that. What I found on the far west wall were two large wooden sets of small drawers with a sign across the top that read, “Government Documents shelf list. Filed by call number.” Each drawer was full of index cards with information about the location of everything from government educational studies to military documents. What struck me was the age of the whole thing – the yellowed cards, the dated font, the slightly weathered drawers. It felt like peering into a grandparent’s personal file cabinet, except this information was probably much more important.

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A drawer from the government documents shelf list

Once I became bored of looking at the small cards, I made my way back to the staircase and went up to the third floor. It was there that I made perhaps my favorite library discovery yet.

If you’ve been to the south side of the third floor, you’re probably familiar with what many call the “furniture room.” The semicircular sofas and sleek coffee tables are enough to amaze anybody (and to attract a few tired students). A cozy cavern, yes, but my most recent explorations led me to something even better.

On the west side of the furniture room, just past the staircase, is room 302: the living room. I had never bothered to open either of the two doors before because from the outside the room doesn’t look much different from the rest of the space – just a bunch of furniture, yet most of it is red. The room’s real treasure is what you can’t see from the outside.

When I walked through the door, the first thing that struck me was the great view of the mountains. Then I turned around and saw the wall behind me – three large, oddly-shaped holes were carved out of it to provide seating. Two of them had tables and one was for lying down. I’d never seen anything like it.

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The three wall seats in the living room

I was suddenly really glad I had gone in the strange red room, and I immediately sat in one of the wall seats. The library being so deserted early in the morning, I felt like I was in a secret hideout.

However, no matter how isolated you feel on campus, somebody else is bound to know about your spot. After being in the room for just a few minutes, another girl came in and sat down in one of the wall seats. So much for a secret hideout. At least I can still say that I have a new favorite place in the library now.

For those of you who are not very familiar with the Morgan Library, it’s well worth exploring. In fact, any building on campus is worth exploring – even those you have no reason to visit. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been at CSU for several months or several years – you may be pleasantly surprised when you take some time to seek out the unfamiliar in this oh-so-familiar place.