More than a year ago, CU Denver hit a major milestone when it opened its first on-campus residence hall dedicated to first-year students. Home to 555 Lynx, City Heights Residence Hall and Learning Commons brings to the downtown campus an affordable housing option and central hub for academic enrichment opportunities and peer-to-peer collaboration, while amplifying students’ connection to the surrounding city. Now, the residence hall can add “award-winning” to its list of achievements.
On Oct. 7, City Heights Residence Hall was one of six projects selected as a Downtown Denver Award winner. Hosted by the Downtown Denver Partnership, the honor recognizes change-makers that are helping make Denver a thriving city for all. The residence hall was named alongside some of Denver’s iconic businesses and organizations that add to the vibrancy of the city, including LoDo’s McGregor Square, Meow Wolf Denver, RiNo ArtPark, Denver Art Museum Welcome Center, and Gateway at Sun Valley.
“Denver is a college town,” said Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “We have 43,000 students enrolled on the Auraria campus, driven greatly by CU Denver, so the fact that City Heights is bringing a place where students can live where they learn is incredibly important to our future.”
Spearheaded by Campus Architect Jered Minter, City Height’s application for the award detailed CU Denver’s dedication and commitment to the transformative project. Despite hardships during the construction phase, including supply chain issues and financial impacts as a result of the pandemic as well as adverse weather, CU Denver, in partnership with JLL and design and build partners JEDunn and Stantec, finished City Heights on time and on budget. The result is a sustainable (LEED Gold-certified) building located in the heart of campus, designed with equity, student success, and community impact at the forefront.
“We know that CU Denver graduates, many of them stay local and contribute to the economy,” said Monique Snowden, PhD, Senior Vice Chancellor for Strategic Enrollment and Student Success. “Being right here in the city allows them to understand and experience and say, ‘This is a place I can see myself not only studying in but living in for a long time.’” She noted that City Heights Residence Hall has also brought to the campus artwork that makes her smile. The larger-than-life murals on the outside of the building, painted by CU Denver alum Thomas “Detour” Evans, are of three CU Denver alums who are making significant contributions to society.
For first-generation student and resident assistant (RA) Santiago Lanchipa Mejia, living at City Heights Residence Hall has made Denver feel more like home. “I know when I came here, not knowing Denver, it felt scary at first. But then you start to feel comfortable and build connections with friends, and they can help you feel safe in a place you don’t know,” Mejia said. “Downtown is definitely part of me now.”