Like everyone else who visits Colorado State University, Gargi Duttgupta was struck by the beauty of the Oval.
“I love neighborhoods and campuses that have a lot of character and incorporate open space,” she said. “The Oval is living, breathing history. It’s full of green space, and every brick on every building could tell you a story.”
In her new role as CSU’s campus planner, Duttgupta will be contributing to what these spaces and those stories look like for generations to come.
She started the job in August, and in the weeks since, has immersed herself in getting to know CSU and its built environment through extensive walking tours and meetings with the people passionate about the University’s future.
Duttgupta isn’t a stranger to public service: prior to joining CSU, she spent eight years working for the Colorado Department of Human Services, where she spearheaded planning and projects that emphasized a resilient and more sustainable built environment.
As a LEED-accredited professional, she’ll bring that same commitment to sustainability and resilience to CSU, where she’ll help guide the vision for a campus that aligns with and enhances the vision, mission and values of the University and build on its rich history.
“Public sector work is what I believe in, it feeds my soul,” she said. “That’s why I came to the state government in the first place – paying it forward – and the University is the next step, since it’s working to build the future citizens.”
Creating a positive, lasting impact
When she was growing up, Duttgupta said she had an affinity for both the arts and sciences, which led her to pursue architecture, since it was a career path that combined both of her passions.
“I thought it was a good mix because architecture is all about occupiable and safe spaces, and is ‘art’ which is occupiable and also enhances the world that we live in,” she said.
She is now a licensed architect and has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture. Before coming to the United States, Duttgupta began her career in India. She worked multiple jobs in the private sector before joining the Colorado state government.
For her, the work is about creating a sustainable and resilient built environment that respects history, while incorporating the present, and planning for the future to ultimately create a place that has a positive, lasting impact.
“When you’re talking about the built environment, it’s not disposable nor does it have a short life span, unlike the clothes or shoes you wear: It should not be an impulse buy, you can’t toss it in the trash, it’s going to be there for a long time,” Duttgupta said. “And, that environment isn’t just a vessel for people to live in; it has a hand in shaping behavior.”
During her career, Duttgupta said she’s done some historic preservation, and the opportunity to do so on CSU’s distinctive campus was one of the many exciting aspects of her new job.
To begin, she’ll be partaking in CSU’s next iteration of its 10-year cyclical master planning process, and wrap her head around a campus with nearly 13 million square feet of building space.
“It’s a lot of square footage, but it’s also a testament to where we’ve come as a university,” Duttgupta said. “It started 152 years ago as a land-grant institution with just a few buildings, and it’s grown by leaps and bounds over the years and decades, and it will continue to do so.
“I’m awed by the opportunity to respect this legacy and to build something new for the future.”