Colorado College Tutt Library Expansion and Transformation

Architect: Pfeiffer

Owner: Colorado College

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Invigorated by Colorado College’s commitment to carbon neutrality, this new library embraced the net-zero mentality from the start. The project follows the planning principles and recommendations set forth in the college’s long range development plan and focuses on open space, flexibility, environmental stewardship, and moments of social and intellectual engagement.

The team’s vision for the facility, originally designed by Walter Netsch in 1961 and expanded in the 1980s, reflects the shifting nature of libraries and the college’s values. The 1980s addition was demolished, returning the adjacent Palmer Quad to its original stature and strengthening its importance on campus. The project has radically transformed the library’s relationship to the campus through new entries, a sheltered courtyard, and three new exterior spaces. Its massing and ample windows reverse the library’s former introspective focus while providing inspiring views of nearby Pikes Peak. Cementing the geographical context is the library’s exterior cladding, which features red panels that reference locally mined red sandstone.

Inside, library services and resources mingle with academic programs and instructional spaces, including an experimental classroom, that easily transform into group study spaces in the evening. The renovation more than doubled the library’s seating capacity, and new spaces support digital scholarship, including a GIS lab and data visualization suite. It also houses a café and spaces that allow the academic experience to traverse the building’s walls. In an effort to support the college’s block schedule, in which one subject is the focus of intense study for three weeks, and the need for immediately accessible materials, the general collection remains within the library in new compact shelving. Special collections are housed in a specially designed vault.

Through increased space, light, and technological innovations, the Tutt Library has been re-established as the intellectual heart of Colorado College’s community.

Additional information

Engineer - Structural: HCDA Engineering

Engineer - MEP: Farris Engineering

Engineer - Classic Consulting Engineers & Surveyors, LLC

Landscape Architect: N.E.S. Inc

Library AV/IT - The Sextant Group

Lighting Consultant - Kaplan Gehring McCarroll (KGM)

General Contractor - GH Phipps


Charles A. Higueras, FAIA (Chair), San Francisco Public Works, San Francisco, California

Becca Cavell, FAIA, Bora Architects, Portland, Oregon

Brian Chase, Director, Normal Public Library, Normal, Illinois

Jill Friedmann, Assistant Dean, Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona

Clem Guthro, Orange County, California

Charles Wray, AIA, Quinn Evans, Richmond, Virginia

Image credits

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Steve Lerum

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Steve Lerum

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Steve Lerum

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Steve Lerum

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Steve Lerum