Colorado State University
  • Higher Education

61,275 SF



RATIO as Design Architect in association with HCM.

Designing for Elegant Efficiency

Beautifully sited within the landscape and tucked beside modernist buildings on the Science Mall, the Chemistry Research Building at Colorado State is designed like a Swiss watch — efficient, precise, economical. Inside, scientists are solving our global challenges.

The Impact

To transform the research facility, the design moves away from hyper-customization to efficient, adaptable layouts. This shift to open, flexible shared laboratories, guided by faculty input, fosters collaboration while reducing waste and operating costs. The universal layouts accommodate up to 115 researchers, 125 fume hoods, and integrate advanced technology and mechanical systems for optimal support.

Colorado Modern

Following the pattern of James Hunter, a Colorado-modernist architect, the building fits into the campus vernacular. The exterior features a blend of Coloradan stones and expanses of glass.


The Chemistry Research Building achieved Platinum LEED Certification, a rare feat in chemistry research facilities. Its sustainable design features include: a high-performance heat recovery system, a robust daylighting strategy, a process-chilled water loop that reduces water consumption, and a rain garden designed to detain and filter stormwater on site.

Chemical Reaction

An expressive stair with a copper backdrop wall offers a striking example of chemistry in action. It’s patinaed differently from top to bottom (a chemical process).

Functional Space, Open Feel

Open circulation and sightlines through the entire building. Three zones: public circulation space, researcher workspace, and lab bench space. Gathering place top-floor, conferencing area, small rooftop terrace.