For construction management alumni, work on new science buildings means giving back

Jeb Bair

Jeb Bair, construction management ’10, with the new Chemistry Research Building. 

More than half of Jeb Bair’s seven-year career at Haselden Construction has been spent on the Colorado State University campus. For the 2010 graduate of the university’s construction management program, helping bring state-of-the-art science facilities to campus is a way of giving back.

“It’s cool to see how the campus has changed in the last seven years,” Bair said. “It’s great to know that CSU is getting good quality projects. We are giving our all to give CSU the best projects for the money.”

As CSU and the College of Natural Sciences herald beautiful new buildings for the Department of Biology and the Department of Chemistry, alumni will leave an indelible mark on each. Both were built by Centennial-based Haselden Construction, which has overseen several recent campus projects, including the Scott Bioengineering Building. Both the Biology and Chemistry building projects benefited from skilled leadership of CSU graduates. And those alumni were pleased to play a role in cementing the legacy of a university they love.

Chemistry Research Building: a welcome challenge

For the past two years, Bair has served as superintendent of the Chemistry Research Building project, working closely with the project manager, coordinating on-site work, managing subcontractors, and making sure the project stayed on schedule and on budget. Colby Stodden, also a CSU construction management alumnus, was senior project manager overseeing both buildings.

Before the Chemistry Research Building broke ground in February 2016, Bair worked on the foundation for the Biology Building, which broke ground in October 2015. Once the Chemistry contract was awarded to Haselden, Bair switched full-time to that project. Previously, Bair worked as assistant superintendent on the Scott Bioengineering Building, which was completed in 2014.

The Chemistry Research Building, set to open this fall alongside Biology, has been a welcome challenge, Bair said. With over 100 fume hoods placed in about 60,000 square feet, the facility is maximizing high-quality research infrastructure within a small footprint. Throughout the process, Bair and his team worked closely with the College of Natural Sciences and the Department of Chemistry, communicating design plans and providing periodic tours and updates to faculty and students.

“Everyone at CSU has been great to work with,” Bair said. “We got very spoiled working here on campus.”

Along the way, Bair learned a thing or two about chemistry research – impossible not to, given his attention to every intimate detail of the new facility. “One of the things I learned about is a nuclear magnetic resonance machine, which uses helium and liquid nitrogen,” he said. “That was one of the more unique systems I’ve seen.”

Biology Building and a ‘bittersweet’ handoff

The Biology Building has also had a CSU alumnus at its helm: Project Manager Brent Haselden, who received his degree in 2009. The grandson of the company’s founder and the nephew of its CEO, Haselden had a “wonderful experience” as a student in the Department of Construction Management, part of the College of Health and Human Sciences. Both he and Bair remain active with the department as volunteers, and with the CM Cares program.

“It was always a dream of mine to work on campus for my alma mater,” Haselden said. He first served on the Scott Building pre-construction team. Five years later, he took the opportunity to manage the ambitious Biology Building from start to finish.

Brent Haselden

Brent Haselden, construction management ’09, with the new Biology Building. 

Biology was a design-build project, which diverges from a traditionally contracted construction project. CSU chose Haselden as the sole entity to provide both design and construction services. Haselden partnered with architecture firm Hord Copland Macht for a fully integrated, collaborative design-build experience.

Haselden enjoyed working with Department of Biology Chair Michael Antolin and others in the College of Natural Sciences. “Michael and his team did a great job of making decisions in a timely manner, and sticking with them,” he said. Science buildings are tricky because of the sheer amount of mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure they require – more so than a K-12 school, or an office building, Haselden said.

Across from the first-floor lecture hall on the Biology Building’s west side, visitors are greeted by a ram’s head – the design and placement of which was proposed by alumnus Stodden and his team at Haselden.

“Haselden didn’t just build a building for us,” said Joe von Fischer, associate professor in biology who was active in planning the building’s public spaces. “They suggested a ram’s head for that location, and that was just one of so many suggestions and creative solutions from Haselden that have made this building the best it could possibly be.”

The teams at Haselden are completing the last few punch list items for both buildings, and the campus is preparing a grand opening celebration over Homecoming Weekend in October.

“We will miss the CSU folks,” Haselden said. “I can say that it’s bittersweet, thinking about the last few years, and getting to the point we are now.”