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University of Colorado Denver


The curriculum developed at the University of Colorado Denver was mostly a traditional architectural studio, focusing on producing total precast solutions for iconic Colorado sites: the summit of Pikes Peak, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and in Boulder, Colorado. Each year, the studio has had sixteen students participate and spend an entire semester learning the ins
and outs of precast concrete design, working closely with mentors from industry partners from Encon United and Rocky Mountain Precast (now Wells Precast).

The program has evolved in a few distinct ways. First, the curricular alignment of the studio changed significantly after its first iteration in Spring 2016. At the time, the studio was offered in the fourth studio of a six-studio sequence. “In consultation with Jason Lien and Dan Parker, we decided that the students were not far enough along in their architectural education to fully engage and integrate the precast construction system into their architectural designs,” says Matt Shea, the professor running the program. “As a result of this conversation, the studio was moved to the sixth and final studio in the M.Arch program. In this studio students are required to take a project from conceptual design to the beginning of the design development phase necessitating that the students explore the structural, technical and architectural qualities of the precast construction system.”

The second way in which the program has evolved is the integration of the industry partners into the studio curriculum and culture. Over the past three years the program has doubled the number of days that the students interact with industry partners from seven days to fourteen. It has also increased the number of individuals from the industry who regularly participate in the studios. This has allowed for the studios to become nimbler and able to accommodate individuals’ shifting availability—the studio is less reliant on only a few people. Additionally, this has increased our students’ exposure to a broader spectrum of professionals in the industry, creating a richer educational experience.


• Encon United

• Rocky Mountain Precast (Now Wells Concrete)

• PCI Mountain States

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