April 7, 2023 | NEWS | By Michael Braithwaite, Co-Editor-In-Chief
After multiple delays, renovations to convert the former Honnen Ice Arena into classroom space for the 3D Arts department began over Spring Break. The project’s completion is expected to come in October by the start of Block Three, according to senior project manager Rick Greene.
The building, constructed in 1963 as an open-air ice rink, formerly played host to Colorado College’s on-campus ice-related activities, and permanently closed in 2021 after the completion of Ed Robson Arena. Since its closing, it has been renovated to take the rink and bleachers out and has stood next to Worner Campus Center as an empty warehouse used mostly for overflow classroom space.
The project was initially planned to begin in the summer of 2022, with the building housing both the 3D Arts department as well as the Creativity & Innovation office. However, according to Greene, the college lost the contractor they had hired in a “financial decision,” stalling the project for about a year and forcing both programs to continue to make do with their current resources while waiting for any updates.
This waiting was nothing new to the 3D Arts program, which lost its building to the construction of Ed Robson Arena four years ago. Since the site’s initial demolition in 2019, the department has been in a state of limbo, having to operate in temporary housing without adequate space or resources.
“When we built Robson, we thought there was going to be a bigger plan, but the money fell through,” said Greene. “When the parking structure came into the picture – and that was city driven, they forced us to put a parking structure up there – [it] pushed the building north, which wiped out the 3D Arts building.
As a result of this displacement, a whole generation of 3D Arts students have earned their degrees without being able to properly experience the full extent of their department’s capabilities. According to department chair Scott Johnson, the new space still will not provide the program with the necessary space and resources to fully operate as it did before the arena.
“We had a 6,000 square foot outdoor workspace before [the arena] – this is a fraction of that,” said Johnson. “We now have to get rid of any equipment that won’t fit into the space.”
That equipment includes kilns, furnaces, and other construction equipment, much of which has spent the last few years in storage while the department has lacked the space to use it.
Johnson’s ideal space would be not only feature enough size to house all 3D Arts workspaces and equipment, but would also be designed with more emphasis on outdoor workspaces. However, after being on six Honnen different committes in five years, Johnson is happy to see any positive development in the project.
“The former space had a tremendous sense of student ownership,” said Johnson. “I’m looking forward to fostering that in this space and rebuilding the energy the former building had.”
Despite Honnen’s less-than-ideal size for the 3D Arts department, it was originally also supposed to have another occupant once its renovation was completed. As recently as November, the Creativity & Innovation Office planned to move into Honnen alongside 3D Arts, a move that the office had long been waiting on.
The Creativity & Innovation office at one point featured a student makerspace in its downstairs, but a 2019 water leak forced them to move their machining tools into storage while they awaited a potential move.
However, as that potential new home begins to be prepared for 3D Arts machining tools to be installed, Creativity & Innovation will for now remain in their building on the corner of Cache la Poudre and Tejon. The office remains in the midst of a leadership change after former director of innovation Dez Menendez ‘00 resigned in February.
“C&I is in the process of reimagination and planning,” wrote chair of the Honnen Committee Pedro de Araujo in an email on Tuesday afternoon. “When we couple this with the fact that we had to stay on budget, the college decided best to eliminate the C&I space in this first phase of the project.”
Due to this recent change, the space in Honnen that would have hosted the Creativity & Innovation office will for now remain empty and separated from the 3D Arts side.
“We’re going to put a demising wall in [Honnen] so we can do a future build out for whoever moves in there with the 3D Arts program,” said Greene. “Even if it’s to be more 3D Arts stuff, we have room for it.”
Greene noted that this “placeholder” space for a different program could eventually be filled by Creativity & Innovation, but it is too early to tell at this point. For now, the building is planned to be used solely as a 3D Arts space, with the other side prepared for another department to move in if needed.
“Our current workshop has only space for two people, but our former enrollment used to be as high as 12 per class,” said Johnson. “I’m excited to finally have a design studies program that finally meets the needs of our students.”