In 2022, the Colorado State University System will open its doors to Spur, a space like no other: three buildings focused on water, animal and human health, and food and agriculture. On the banks of the South Platte River, within the redeveloped National Western Center, Spur will be a CSU campus that serves as a front door to the world-class research and education provided within each of the CSU System institutions.

The CSU Spur campus at the National Western Center (NWC) will expand CSU’s programs into a dynamic, growing, urban area, withstrong links to cities and rural areas in the entire State of Colorado and the West, and ties to international audiences.
At Spur at the NWC, engaging art experiences will bring visitors closer to the future of food, water and animal health. Spur is a unique opportunity to inspire current and future students, alumni, employees, and visitors and to reimagine the possibilities for art.

Spur will also expand upon the CSU System’s commitment to sustainability (CSU Fort Collins was the first Platinum rated campus for sustainability), creating facilities and programs that advance and demonstrate sustainable design.

CSU will be constructing three transformative facilities at the NWC: the Water Building, which will focus on innovation and research in water; the CSU Center for Food and Agriculture, focused on teaching and research and development in food and agriculture; and the Animal Health Complex, which will create spaces for exploration and services related to animal health.

All three facilities are intended to be busy, public spaces—CSU is working with our education teams and NWC partners History Colorado the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to plan world-class experiences for life-long learners that are unique to these three facilities.

The surrounding neighborhoods of Globevilleand Elyria-Swansea provide a one-of-a-kind setting and are home to communities that CSU is committed to serving. The rich history of these neighborhoods, and the recent neighborhood plans that outline the communities’ goals for the future, create a foundation for community interaction that is the hallmark of a land grant university.

Learn more about SPUR at






At Spur, art experiences will bring visitors closer to the intersection of food, water, and animal and human health.


The Art Masterplan summarizes best practices in Public Art, referencing policies from the State of Colorado and the City and County of Denver, identifies four criteria for selecting public art for CSU at the NWC campus, and outlines a location and budget plan.
The art masterplan exists to serve three purposes: guide CSU in its search for public art, educate CSU’s employees and visitors about the Spur public art program, and to plan for future art experiences.


The Art Masterplan is informed by the following reference guides, linked here:

City and County of Denver Public Art Ordinance

National Western Center Campus Cultural Plan

National Western Center Public Art Masterplan

State of Colorado Public Art Program


Anderson Mason Dale Architects, CAA ICON, Colorado State University System, Hord Coplan Macht, NINE dot ARTS, SmithGroup, The Clark Enersen Partners, Tribe Development



State of the Art: The Consulting and Curating Business is a report that examines the attitudes, behaviors and beliefs about the process of creating meaningful art experiences. Its findings are based on a survey conducted between July – September 2019 of nearly 200 business professionals working in industries like hospitality, real estate, architecture, healthcare, and government. Highlights from this survey include:

  • 69% INDICATED IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL or very important that the vision is integrated among architects, designers and project owners.
  • ALMOST HALF (47%) believe artwork adds ROI beyond its cost.
  • NEARLY ALL (92%) said art installations elicit positive feedback.
  • ALMOST TWO-THIRDS (62%) of respondents said that it is “absolutely critical” or “very important” that art expresses the brand, mission and vision.
  • 40% OF PEOPLE say their projects would be “much less successful” or “devastated” if they could not acquire art.
  • Upward trends include, art that takes inspiration from the local community, art the incorporates new technology and Instagrammable spaces and experiences.

In my world, art provides an atmosphere and a connection to our visitors. It draws them to our place, and hopefully brings them back. Perhaps they even stay longer.

– State of the Art survey respondent



In summary, this report concludes that art adds value, particularly to new development. Art can tell a brand story, activate a space, pay homage to a person or history, and give visitors reasons to stay longer and return again. When there is a clear vision developed for an art program it can enhance a space to contribute to the project’s overall success. Investing in art will lead to a return on investment that can easily exceed the amount spent on the art itself.



Spur is a unique  opportunity  to inspire current and future  students,  alumni,  employees,   and visitors.  Since Spur is an innovative  and unique format,  NINE  dot ARTS took a dual approach to research in order to understand  best practices in similar public art programs.


  1. Interviews with twelve Colorado artists and art administrators, such as those included in the precedent studies, to understand key factors for success in a variety of art projects in public places
  2. Survey of twenty five Public Art Programs and art administrators on campuses, private developments and entertainment districts to identify best practices


After conducting  interviews  with  artists and art administrators  to gain insight into  what  makes public art successful,  we have  identified four selection criteria that apply to CSU at NWC’s public art selection and implementation;  innovation, Engagement,  imagination,  and Context.

These criteria are meant  to be used when  evaluating potential  artists and artwork  for the site as well  as guideposts for  long-term  success  of the Art Masterplan.



Concentrating creativity through both physical density and human capital enhances economic development. By locating firms, artists, and cultural facilities together, a multiplier effect can result.

– American Planning Association



Artworks  high in innovation  show  new ways  of thinking  about  existing materials,  locations or connection  with  artwork  in a public setting.


Artworks  high in Engagement  thoughtfully  and deliberately  respond to the site and engage audiences. These  artworks  may  include  audience participation in the  visioning or concept development  and/or  creation or fabrication of the artwork.


Artworks  that  feature  a high  level  of imagination use play,  delight,  surprise or entertainment  to spur curiosity,  creativity,  critical thinking,  or discussion.


Artworks  featuring  relevant  references  related to the historic site, land  use, cultural  history,  and surrounding  communities.  These  artworks may be used to reinforce an  authentic  sense of identity.

We are in the middle of the food desert. When we wanted to build and continue programming we wanted to make sure that everyone around us is good and healthy. We can’t be doing well if our neighbors aren’t doing well.

– Anthony Garcia, Artist






Many public spaces across the world feature public artwork. Collection sizes, funding sources, type of artwork, and zoning strategies are all highly varied.

Elements of a successful collection include:

    • Artwork with content that complements the site’s vision
    • Artwork that is inspired by regional expertise or specialization
    • Opportunities for engagement
    • Relevance to a particular site
    • Monumental scale and architecturally integrated artwork

LOCATION: Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT) List Visual Arts Center

WHAT WE LIKE: Engagement

SUMMARY: The Michigan Institute of Technology (MIT) has public art installed all over the university campus with integrated interpretive features. The public is encouraged to engage with art in either a self-guided walking tour or through a virtual tour online. An interactive map allows viewers to click on artwork locations and then read about the process or concepts related to the art.

LOCATION: Denver Theatre District (DTD)

WHAT WE LIKE: Innovation

SUMMARY: The goal of the DTD is to create a public purpose Times Square where theatre, media and technology intersect. The district aims to appeal to and be inclusive of all generational and socioeconomic audiences by creating a unique experience that educates visitors and challenges the very definition of the word theatre. The innovative financing, a 14-block “bright lights” district funds the arts through advertising revenue, and is one of the only models of it’s kind in the US.

LOCATION: Bangaroo in Sydney, Australia

WHAT WE LIKE: Relevance

SUMMARY: The Bangaroo Development Authority manages the development of Sydney’s western waterfront on behalf of the NSW Government, and is responsible for delivering high quality urban design, public spaces and sustainability. As part of this remit, the Authority oversees the delivery of public art, cultural activities and public programs within the precinct. Responses to the form, geography, the rich history and future of the Bangaroo site are integral to the design and delivery of the program.


People realize the power that art has as an attraction. You’re getting a completely new experience you can’t get anywhere else.

 – Molly Casey, Curator, NINE dot ARTS








LOCATION: The Children’s Museum at Marsico Campus, Denver, Colorado

YEAR: 2019

TYPE: Artist Infused aerial adventure course

MATERIALS: Steel, found objects, paint, paper, fabric, wood, net, and additional substrates

WHAT WE LIKE: Engagement, Imagination, Innovation, and Relevance

Adventure Forest is a 500-foot-longaerial playscape infused with site-specific artwork by Wes Sam-Bruce in collaboration with Bonsai Design and The Children’s Museum of Denver. It is playground certified and high-ropes course certified.

Interactive elements of the artwork are based on S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering and math) principles that engage different senses and types of thinking throughout the course.

The ambitious scale of this project and the unique design elements created unique challenges for the design and fabrication teams. For instance, the steel orbs could not be welded on the ground as planned and had to be welded while suspended at their final height in the air.

Inspiration for the project came from the native landscape and from a hawk that lives on the property. When Kerri Atter, Director of Special Projects at the Children’s Museum, first met Sam-Bruce to discuss the art commission the large bird sat near them and flew overhead at the end of the meeting. This led to a fictional story called, The Fire Trust, written to guide the artwork at Adventure Forest.

The project narrative is laced throughout the facility and is told in parts through an alphabet written for Adventure Forest. Artistic features by Sam-Bruce are infused throughout the course and includes several areas showcasing found objects and items. from the artist’s studio.

Through meaningful collaboration this playground concept was transformed into an education center, discovery zone, platform to teach empathy (in the dedicated empathy sphere), art installation, exercise arena, and landmark for the Children’s Museum. The installation offers an enriching cultural experience that enhances its primary use as a youth adventure course. Effective planning, attention to detail, stringent safety and maintenance procedures, creative inspiration, and thoughtful design culminate into the one-of-a-kind experience offered at Adventure Forest.




LOCATION: 6th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, Denver, Colorado

YEAR: 2018

TYPE: Public Art

MATERIALS: aerosol paint, acrylic paint, LED Lights, solar panels, bronze

WHAT WE LIKE: Engagement, Innovation, and Relevance

Located in the Sun Valley neighborhood, “Crossroads / Encrucijada” is a beacon for pedestrian and vehicular traffic passing 6thAvenue and Federal. The artist, Anthony Garcia and founder of Birdseed Collective describes his use of the serape as a symbol to represent “How communities are strong and free to express emotions and ideas while still feeling protected.”

There are multiple layers of significance in each design element featured in “Crossroads / Encrucijada”. The colorful façade of this artwork which complements the existing bridge structure is symbolically significant to the surrounding residential area. The simple abstract design can be easily viewed at the speed of vehicular traffic.

Solar powered LED lights shine from the edges of bronze chevron shaped sconces, which provides interior lamination for night viewing. The use of solar is aligned with the sustainability effort for the City of Denver and is well matched with its location since Denver gets a high number of days with sunshine.

Garcia’s role as a founding member and Executive Director of Birdseed Collective has prepared him to find innovative solutions to public artwork that take the surrounding community into consideration. Birdseed Collective is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Denver, Colorado that focuses on healthy living and creative endeavors. In the past ten years, Birdseed Collective has grown to manage a community center, art gallery, and artist incubator space.

Garcia and his mother both are from the Globeville Eleryia Swansia (GES) neighborhood and have been working with the community for over 20 years. As Garcia stepped into the role of a leader and artist he saw the need to not only bring art to the community, but opportunities for wellness also.

Their approach to murals and art projects in the public sphere focus on a community-first process centered in awareness that the nearby residents will live with the artwork long after the artists leave.

Garcia remarked “There is something lost in translation when the artist shows up to do the work and the community wasn’t engaged at all.” Artists working with Birdseed Collective will often sit down with the neighboring community and stakeholders to learn more about the neighborhood and get an idea of how the presence of the artwork might be received in the proposed Engagement.






LOCATION: Dairy Block Alley, 1800 Wazee St, Denver, Colorado

YEAR: 2018

TYPE: Private Commission in a public space

MATERIALS: cast metal, lights, sound

WHAT WE LIKE: Engagement, Imagination, Innovation, and Relevance


Musical Churns is an exploratory installation spanning an art-infused pedestrian alleyway in Denver, Colorado called Dairy Block Alley. The Dairy Block name references the industry that took place on the one full city block occupied by the previous owner, Windsor Farms. The Alleyway, is the first pedestrian zoned use alley in Denver, Colorado. A call to artists was placed during the onset of the site’s redevelopment that requested artists addressed the historic use of the site while making the alleyway inviting to passerby. Artist Nikki Pike was amongst a group of several artists who were commissioned to create a site-specific artwork proposal for the alleyway and was awarded the commission to create an art installation in the alley to guide people through the space. 

Pike’s installation consists of a total of 7 cast meta l butter churns that light up and play music when the handle is cranked. Once the music commences several circular backlit metal facades light up directing the participant to the next churn. 

This pattern repeats into the center of the alleyway where a sign hangs from the ceiling of the above building that says “Here”.

Each musical score is around 15 seconds and is recorded through commissions awarded to members of the Denver Symphony Orchestra. Pike sees the sculptural element as a delivery system for the music stating that, “It is a delivery system for bringing the symphony and art to the people. You can just walk through the alley for free and you can get that high culture symphonic experience.” –Nikki Pike, Artist





LOCATION: Plaza at North Transfer Station, Seattle, Washington

YEAR: 2016

TYPE: Public Art

MATERIALS: reclaimed rebar, steel armature, painted lines incised into concrete

WHAT WE LIKE: Engagement, Imagination, Innovation, and Relevance

Reclaimed is a public sculpture that utilizes discarded building material from the adjacent construction site to create a 637 sq/ft orange mass. The sculpture’s form is designed to harken the original natural landscape of the surrounding area.

This sculpture utilizes over 10,000 linear feet of repurposed rebar to create structures that mimic the previously existing natural landscape. The juxtaposition of materials that coalesce to create a mass that is reminiscent of the natural landscape of this area that was present previous to site’s development. Jean Shin describes her approach in a site specific way. First, she spends time listening to the stakeholders and community during her site visit to determine what aspects of the sites history and use are the most relevant to emphasize. Shin continues with a collaborative approach to develop and complete each project. This site responsive process is effective in retaining a sense of place through public artwork. Shin’s approach has led to organic solutions that utilize sustainable building materials, often incorporates community engagement, and utilizes listening as an artistic medium.


Questions Shin asks when engaging in a new project:

What is happening in the art program?

What do the clients want to activate?

Is it a marking of past history, is it a landmark or a beacon?









The Water Building will be a global leader in water education, research, innovation and policy, bringing together many disciplines and sectors in pursuit of solutions to Western and global challenges at the intersection of food, water, and health.

The Water Building will be unique in the world. It will advance state-of-the-art practices in water; provide a place for water-oriented conversations and conferences; highlight connections between water and urban and rural food systems and energy; link water users with problem-solvers; showcase water sustainability; and foster collaboration across sectors.

With its connection to a restored section of the South Platte River in north Denver, the building will also provide a home for community activities and hands-on water education for students and families.

Water Building will showcase the innovative spirit of the West, and serve as a place of connection across disciplines, geographies, and eras. It sits within a rich and dynamic community and historical engagement, with a focus on the future and addressing Western and global challenges.


    • Collaborative innovation/incubation space
    • Research and teaching labs
    • Western Water Policy Institute
    • Center for Ag Innovation
    • Community and educational space
    • Denver Water’s Compliance Lab
    • Outdoor research and learning
    • Event and lecture space

Learn More:





The programs within the Animal Health Complex will be global leaders in understanding,  improving, and sharing the  value of improved animal health as well as the human-animal bond.

The Animal Health Complex will bring together university  experts,  veterinarians, service providers, and nonprofit organizations to create a collaborative space focused on animal  health, human health, equine sports medicine, equine assisted activities and therapies, and companion animal  veterinary care via our partners at the Dumb Friends League.

Students from kindergarten to college-level will be able to engage in the space in different ways: observing medical procedures, engaging in hands-on learning commensurate to their grade level,  and discovering career options in animal and human  health.


    • K-12 educational facilities and programs
    • Equine sports medicine
    • Equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) at the Temple Grandin Equine Center
    • Small animal community outreach clinic
    • Living space for students, visitors, FFA Officers

Learn More:




CSU System Center for Food and Agriculture will provide experiential learning  opportunities and impactful research in food systems.

The CSU System Center for Food and Agriculture will further the mission of global impact at the National Western Center by  providing K-12 education, interactive learning opportunities for families, and flexible conference and exhibit space. The facility will tie together research,  outreach, and education in an inspiring location, anchoring CSU in the heart of the National Western Center.

As part of its land-grant mission of outreach, education, and service, CSU System has an Extension office serving every county in Colorado. The CSU System Center for Food and Agriculture will serve as an additional space for Denver Urban Extension to respond to community educational need and offer a variety of resources, ranging from gardening classes to energy audits.

In  addition, the CSU System Center for Food and Agriculture will provide space for a variety of activities including arts performances,  business  incubation, and laboratory  research.


    • K-12 Ag Discovery Center
    • CAM’s Ag Academy
    • Soil, water, plant service labs
    • Kitchen with sensory testing
    • Urban ag research and education
    • Denver Metro Extension Center
    • Denver Engagement Hub
    • Community spaces

Learn More:








NINE dot ARTS connects art with business. We are an award-winning art consulting and curating firm known for our vision, creativity, and forward-thinking approach to enhancing spaces with memorable art experiences. We curate inspiring collections that not only display visual beauty, but connect people to places and brands.