Make way for Meridian Village on former Aylesworth Hall site

Aylesworth site

The former site of Aylesworth Hall will be the new home of Meridian Village, the next housing complex on CSU’s campus

At the site of what once was Aylesworth Hall now sits a perfectly leveled plot being primed and readied for construction of the next housing complex on Colorado State University’s campus, Meridian Village.

In October, the Board of Governors approved $130 million for Phase 1 of the project. Scheduled from April 2020 through May 2022, the first phase of construction includes 1,100 beds split across three buildings as well as a temporary dining and mail facility, the realignment of Meridian Avenue and renovations of the Braiden Hall parking lot and Ram’s Horn Express and Sports Grill.

The Meridian Village project was awarded to Saunders Construction and 4240 Architecture, who are currently working alongside CSU Facilities Management and Housing & Dining Services to finalize the design of Phase 1, expecting to wrap up in August 2020.

Both firms have completed on-campus projects before. Saunders constructed the most recent renovations of the LSC and Student Rec Center, and 4240 designed several spaces including Laurel Village, Aggie Village, Durrell Center and the Warner College of Natural Resources Michael Smith addition.

“We have an opportunity and responsibility to create a home for each student that chooses CSU as their academic institution,” said Lou Bieker, principal at 4240 Architecture. “An opportunity to design a vibrant residential village that provides the comforts of home, the community support of a village and the setting to inspire and promote wellbeing for all.”

Preparing for growth

As part of Phase 1 of the project, Ram’s Horn Express and the Sports Grill at Academic Village will undergo a renovation in the summer of 2021 to become an expanded grab-and-go-style dining space with an open seating area. This permanent expansion will help meet the growing dining needs of the south side of campus and accommodate for future growth at Meridian Village.

“The intent is to create a larger, convenience store-style concept that will be able to serve more people faster than the existing sports grill,” said Laura Bently, project manager for Housing & Dining Facilities.

Another proactive step to accommodate the future growth on the south side of campus is widening Hughes Way this summer. The road is to become a two-way street with separated east- and west-bound bike lanes and additional diagonal parking spaces on both sides. The east-bound lane from Shields Street to the Morgan Library lot will close this March (traffic still permitted to travel west), with the entire street closing soon after in May through completion of the project in August 2020.

Hughes Way

A rendering of the upcoming widening of Hughes Way project.

This May through mid-Fall 2020, drilling for campus’ first GeoExchange system will begin on the Rec Center Intramural Fields. As an on-site renewable energy system, the geothermal system will tap into the heat sources deep in the Earth’s core to generate electricity and heat buildings without the use of any fossil fuels.

The GeoExchange system will serve the heating and cooling needs of Meridian Village and the Moby complex, which is currently on main campus’s steam distribution plant. Fields will not be back to full use until spring 2021.

Phase 2 plans

While the details of Phase 2 are not yet finalized, initial planning indicates that the second phase of Meridian Village will be constructed in the current location of Newsom Hall and will consist of two more buildings housing an additional 200-500 beds; a permanent dining venue; and a community hub with a mail/package center, meeting/maker spaces, lounges and front desk services. Tentatively, Phase 2 will be submitted to the Board of Governors for approval in Fall 2021.

As CSU continues to grow and more students are choosing to live on campus beyond their first year, Meridian Village aims to provide the space and amenities needed for both first year and returning rams to call home.

“Housing & Dining Services has seen great success in building residential villages to strengthen connections between academic and living environments and between outdoor and indoor spaces. Our first one was Academic Village in 2008, followed by Laurel Village in 2014 and Aggie Village in 2016,” said Mari Strombom, executive director of Housing & Dining Services. “These villages break down the large university feel into smaller and more community-centric areas that support student success.”