Many an old grad has reflected that students may come and go, classes enter and graduate, but that venerable walls and carved chimney-pieces, picturesque gables and vaulted archways endure forever.

-Charles Z. Klauder

Visitors to the Heritage Center’s Klauder Architecture Gallery can view a large model of the CU campus as architect Charles Z. Klauder envisioned it in 1919. Drawings, maps and photographs of the buildings which embody the campus’s distinctive look are also on display.

Proposed University of Colorado campus, 1919; Charles Z. Klauder, architect

Growth and Vision

In 1917, CU was a small university of about 1,500 students. The university’s presidents and regents had big dreams for expanding the campus. They hired architect Charles Z. Klauder to prepare a master plan and begin to build the CU of the future.

Charles Klauder

Charles Z. Klauder (1872-1938) joined the architectural firm of Frank Miles Day and Brother in 1900. The firm, later called Day and Klauder, specialized in college architecture. They designed buildings for Princeton, Wellesley, Cornell, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. One of Klauder’s best known buildings is the “Cathedral of Learning” at the University of Pittsburgh.

Klauder’s “University of Colorado Style”

The choice of style will be influenced primarily by the nature of the terrain, the nature of the boundaries, the traditional identity of a style with the locality in question.

-Charles Z. Klauder

Although Charles Klauder intended to design CU in the traditional English Collegiate Gothic style, he discovered that the Boulder landscape and the availability of the local pink sandstone were far more suited to a style he had observed during his travels to Italy. His unique “University of Colorado Style” was based in part on the villages of Tuscany and on other architectural elements he found in Florence.

Klauder’s buildings make use of the local pink sandstone. To add contrast, Klauder used dark red roof tiles and white limestone trim. For details such as doorways, lanterns and railings he used black wrought iron. Architectural accents include whimsical fountains, cartouches and arched windows.

Klauder designed 15 buildings at the University of Colorado between 1920 and 1938. His work includes all the important elements of a university: a library (Norlin), dormitories (Sewall and Baker), science laboratories (Chemistry wings), gymnasiums (Carlson and Clare Small), classroom buildings (Hellems), a museum (Henderson) and open courtyards.

Over the years, campus architects have tried to maintain Klauder’s original “University of Colorado Style” by following a descriptive set of design guidelines which allow for modern adaptations to Klauder’s original components. Basic elements of the style include:


Klauder used white limestone trim to accent his windows and entrances and to break up the horizontal lines of the sandstone walls. The three-arched entranceway to Carlson Gymnasium is an example of this type of curved embellishment.


“As much heed should be given to the spaces between the buildings as the buildings themselves,” Klauder wrote. To accomplish this, he incorporated open, restful spaces into his campus design.


The cartouche, an oval tablet often enclosing a coat-of-arms, lends grandeur to Klauder’s rural architecture. Klauder left many of his cartouches plain, but others are embellished with symbols.

Wrought Iron Accents

Klauder chose black wrought iron embellishments to contrast with the “red and white” architecture of the buildings. Doors, window sashes, shutters, balcony railings and lamps were painted black, consistent with the character of the buildings Klauder saw in Tuscany.

Sandstone Walls

Colors of stone used on campus buildings range from pink to dark red, blue, buff, and brown. Stone for campus buildings is gathered from a variety of Colorado quarries to obtain the desired color mix. The fractured face of the masonry extends outward beyond the mortar joint as much as two inches in places, providing textural highlight and shadow to the wall surface.

Red Tile Roofs

Campus roofing tile is straight-barrel, mission tile of vitrified clay. The range of colors used varies from red to dark red to brown with a sprinkling of buff. The tile roofs are recognized as long-lasting and low in maintenance and are impervious to all but the largest hailstone.

Limestone Trim

Indiana limestone was used from the beginning to trim windows, entrances and building walls. It was carved into a variety of classical details including arches, columns, cornices, cartouches, sculpted figures, benches and other building details. In recent years, architectural concrete has been used as a substitute for limestone, although limestone is always the first choice.

CU-Boulder Buildings Designed by Charles Z. Klauder:

Date Original Building Name Current Building Name
1921 Liberal Arts Hellems Arts and Sciences
1923 Library Stacks Wings University Theater Wing
1924 Men’s Gymnasium Carlson Gymnasium
1925 Chemistry Wings East and West wings of Ekeley Sciences
1926 Women’s Gymnasium Clare Small Arts and Sciences
1927 Memorial Student Union Economics
1934 Women’s Residence Hall Sewall Hall
1936 Field House Balch Fieldhouse
1937 Men’s Residence Hall Baker Hall
1937 Natural History Museum Henderson Museum
1937 Women’s Club McKenna Languages
1938 Ketchum Engineering Ketchum Arts and Sciences
1939 Norlin Library Norlin Library
1939 University Faculty Club University Club
1947 McKenna Addition McKenna Languages


Other helpful websites include:

Facilities Management – Campus Architect Website

Historic District Tour

University of Colorado Master Plan

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