Immersed in the city: Q&A with Maria Delgado

Like the fast-growing Mile High City, CAP instructor bursts with infectious energy

April 16, 2018

Most of us look at the expanding Denver cityscape and notice the size and increasing number of new buildings. Maria Delgado, a CU Denver graduate part-time instructor and doctoral candidate in Design and Planning in the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), notices something else.

She notices the energy.

Like the fast-growing Mile High City, Delgado bursts with an infectious energy that she channels into transforming her community. Beginning in 2012, Delgado, along with a couple local architects, set up a series of monthly hard-hat tours.

The tours have raised nearly $24,000 to support Denver Architecture Foundation (DAF) initiatives, including a program that helps connect Denver Public School students with the built community.

Delgado’s commitment to the local community hasn’t gone unnoticed, as she is a 2018 winner for the 40 Under 40 award; the Denver Business Journal annually honors 40 outstanding young local professionals.

CU in the City

Poised on the city’s doorstep, CU Denver students, faculty and staff engage with the city every day. Delgado has taken full advantage of this proximity and combined her passions for teaching and civic involvement by fostering a partnership between the City and County of Denver and CAP. Last May, Delgado, two co-workers and 21 students designed and constructed two gateways for “The Square on 21st,” the first pop-up park in Denver, which brought greenspace to underserved areas in Denver.

CU Denver Today asked Delgado a few questions about what motivates her and why she enjoys teaching and studying at Colorado’s public urban research university:

How has CU Denver’s location in the city impacted your educational and professional growth?

Attending an urban research institution has been a blessing in various ways. As a teacher, the school’s centric location has fostered successful project collaborations with the City and County of Denver that provide positive, real-world learning experiences for my undergraduate students. As graduate student, I have been able to attend various group and organization meetings. For example, the Colorado General Assembly and the governor formed the Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging (SAPGA), which is tasked with examining current shifting age demographics to understand their impacts on multiple variables, one being the built environment. Being immersed in and understanding local, regional and state needs has significantly impacted my PhD research direction.

If you were not a professor/lecturer, what would you be?

Maria Delgado in downtown Denver
Maria Delgado enjoys immersing herself in city life. She and fellow College of Architecture and Planning students helped Denver officials design and develop this downtown pop-up park last summer.

I would love to travel the world with my drone and take footage of historic buildings and cities to share the media and knowledge with other people.

What was your first concert?

In 2006, as a first-year undergrad student, a band based out of Denver called The Fray (whose lead singer is an alumnus of CU Denver) performed at CSU’s Moby arena. It was awesome!

What surprised you, hopefully in a good way, about attending CU Denver?

All the kind people who truly care and sincerely invest in your education, well-being and future. For example, I am personally thankful to the special staff and teachers in the College of Architecture and Planning who have truly guided me throughout my student career. Phil Gallegos, associate professor, opened the door for me to teach as a teaching assistant and graduate part-time instructor. Joan VandenBurg, instructor, has provided me endless teaching mentorship. Leo Darnell, assistant dean of academic services and extended studies, has taught me how to navigate a university system full of amazing resources for students and teachers. I am so grateful for these people because they have been exemplary examples of people in academia who are positive and have a can-do attitude. I am a result of their teaching and mentorship. When I am older, I absolutely want to guide young professionals and scholars just like they have done for me.

How would you describe the atmosphere and amenities of CU Denver and its urban surroundings to friends or potential students?

The spark has ignited and the atmosphere is electric. The amenities continue to evolve. I started as a student in the Master in Architecture  program in 2010 and began as a teaching assistant in 2011. In my time here I have seen the school resources transform. As a student and a teacher resources are critical to education, so we are fortunate that CU Denver strives to bring the latest technology to students and teachers. I would also tell them CU Denver wants to C  U  🙂

Is there anywhere you like to hang out in Denver when you’re not working? What do you like about it?  

Over the last eight years, I have personally experienced the downtown Denver development growth. I love all of the new thriving, energetic spaces that have emerged, such as Union Station. I live in the heart of downtown Denver across from Union Station. It feels like an extension of my living room where I can hang out with family and friends for coffee, food and, of course, Little Man ice cream.

What is your ideal vacation? Or where do you like to travel?

My ideal vacations include beach time combined with visiting historic architectural sites. Traveling to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Italy have been my favorite trips.

What keeps you up at night? What gets you up every morning?

Netflix keeps me up at night. Life gets me up in the morning. I am so grateful to be healthy and happy with an amazing group of family and friends who provide unconditional love, support and encouragement.