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A new facility can offer thousands of equine therapy sessions a year

University Buildings

A new facility can offer thousands of equine therapy sessions a year

Colorado State University’s new public-facing Spur campus opens its first building.


By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor | March 7, 2022
Vida exterior
CSU's Spur Campus will offer a unique educational experience.

At its new Spur campus in Denver, Colorado State University (CSU) will bring its expertise to the public by offering free educational experiences to visitors of all ages. Spur’s three buildings—Hydro, Terra, and Vida—will focus, respectively, on water, earth, and life. 

The first of the three facilities, Vida (Spanish for “life”), highlights the connection between animal and human health. Designed by Clark & Enersen and built by JE Dunn, the three-story, 118,000-square-foot facility has the capacity to offer 7,500 equine-assisted services (EAS) sessions each year. These sessions comprise physical, occupational, and speed therapy; mental health counseling; adaptive horsemanship and therapeutic riding; and equine-facilitated learning. Vida, which opened to visitors in January, replaces a temporary site that had hosted about 1,500 therapy sessions a year.

CSU Vida Facility
The Vida facility can offer 7500 equine-assisted services each year.

“CSU Spur’s Vida building has the goal of educating young visitors about careers in health, and we were interested in offering collaborative spaces that leveraged CSU’s unique skills in equine veterinary care, while partnering with organizations like the Dumb Friends League to train students and provide veterinary care to families,” Jocelyn Hittle, assistant vice chancellor of CSU Spur, said in a statement.

Inside CSU Vida
The CSU Vida building's focus is to educate visitors on careers in health.

As the first of the three CSU Spur buildings, Vida needed distinct but flexible spaces that could support the ever-changing programs. Clark & Enersen took a holistic approach to the design, providing architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering, and construction administration services. This allowed for the integration of architecture, interiors, site design, and systems—particularly important for a facility that hosts so many different programs. 

Vida Horse
One of the horses that lives onsite at Vida demonstrating an underwater treadmill used for rehabilitation and strength building.

In addition to EAS activities, Vida supports equine medical and rehabilitation services, as well as a veterinary hospital that provides healthcare services to dogs and cats. Vida’s spaces encourage visitors to experience what it would be like to work as a veterinarian, veterinary technician, animal behavioral specialist, or wildlife biologist. To promote public viewing and participation, the design team kept sightlines and wayfinding top of mind, leading to an abundant use of glass. 

Vida Procedure
A live medical procedure, open to public viewing, taking place at the Dumb Friends League Veterinary Hospital at Vida.

Owner: Colorado State University, CSU Spur Campus

Owner’s representative: CAA ICON

Design architect: Clark & Enersen and INVISION

Architect of record, MEP engineer, and structural engineer: Clark & Enersen

Civil Engineer: Martin/Martin

General contractor/construction manager: JE Dunn

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