Building with lights on against a pink sky.


Jan. 3, 2022

THE NEW CSU SPUR CAMPUS is the educational anchor at the National Western Center in north Denver. But visit, and you’ll see this is no typical campus.

For one thing, it won’t grant college degrees. Instead, Spur is focused entirely on public education, research, and community outreach. And its programs center on food, water, and animal and human health. These are topics the CSU System and its campuses excel at studying and teaching – and they’re matters central to the globe’s most urgent challenges.

Spur’s programs probe connections among these subjects, while also connecting rural and urban communities that define Colorado. Spur holds a prominent place on the historic grounds of the National Western Stock Show; yet, it seeks to shape the future by exciting kids about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math – the STEM fields that drive innovation. For this reason, science is on full display at Spur; in many cases, visitors are invited to participate.

Visit, and you’ll experience all there is to see, do, and learn at a campus designed for everyone.

Top down map of Spur and NWC campus.
  • It will be noon to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, as part of CSU Day at the National Western Stock Show.  
  • Vida will be open to the public 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7-23, coinciding with the stock show.
  • Free tours and demonstrations will be available daily.
  • Spur comprises three buildings: Vida, for programs in animal and human health; Terra, for food and agriculture; and Hydro, for water.
  • Terra and Hydro will open later in 2022.
  • For more information, visit


Rendering of Vida
  • PATIENTS ARE A VIRTUE: Watch as pets undergo health checks and surgeries at the Dumb Friends League Veterinary Hospital at CSU Spur. The nonprofit league provides high-caliber care for the pets of Denver families who otherwise could not afford it. CSU veterinary students are trained in the process. The hospital is unique in putting medical treatment for pets on full view for visitors.
  • SLEEP IN: Lodging is available on site for students and guests who are learning and working at CSU Spur.
  • COOL CAT: This 9-foot kitten meows when approached from the front and hisses when approached from behind. It’s the purr-fect way to teach visitors about animal behavior.
  • YOUR TURN: After observing veterinary care in action, walk through a replica vet clinic. Review radiographs, consider patient histories, and decide how you’d treat dogs, cats, and horses with health problems.
  • THERAPEUTIC VALUE: Children and adults with health challenges benefit from equine-assisted services at the CSU Temple Grandin Equine Center. It’s named for Professor Grandin, a world-famous animal scientist and advocate for people with autism.
  • ON DISPLAY: Monitors and interactive digital displays enhance learning at CSU Spur. One features animated dog, cat, and horse characters that offer fun facts and describe life on a farm.
  • BUSY BODY: Grab your headset! Bodily structures come into focus during immersive, 3D experiences that use virtual reality to teach visitors about human and animal anatomy.
  • SPORT HORSE: Human athletes see specialists to prevent and rehabilitate from injuries. Same goes for horses. At the CSU Equine Sports Medicine Clinic, hardworking horses make a splash on an underwater treadmill and receive other veterinary care for peak performance.


Rendering of Terra
  • WHAT’S COOKING: A teaching and culinary kitchen will offer space for community cooking classes and for preparing and perfecting new products developed in a nearby food lab.
  • TASTE TEST: A sensory lab will invite visitors to sample food products and to assess flavor, texture, aroma, and other attributes.
  • URBAN FARMING: A demonstration lab grows leafy greens, showing how light technology may be used for large-scale crop production indoors. Researchers also will test temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide variables to maximize crop yields in vertical growth chambers.
  • FOOD SUPPLY: In a state-of-the-art food lab, outside companies and entrepreneurs will develop value-added meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetable products. Think sausage, yogurt, salsa, and many other items that involve new ways of safely processing and packaging raw ingredients.
  • UP ON THE ROOFTOP: You’ve got your green roofs. You’ve got your rooftop solar panels. Now, put them together for a crop production system called “rooftop agrivoltaics,” a fresh take on growing produce in urban settings – while also producing renewable energy. Greenhouses also top Terra, displaying another way to use urban space for food production.
  • IN FOCUS: Successful product launch often relies on market research. Here, rooms will be available for focus groups that provide input about new food products – and whether they appeal to the tastes, health interests, and busy lifestyles of consumers.
  • GLOBAL IMPACT: Where in the world are students, faculty, and alumni? An interactive digital map will show the CSU System’s global reach, highlighting research, learning, and outreach at scores of sites worldwide. It’s part of a project called CSU Impact, which showcases and encourages international work.
  • TESTING, TESTING: The CSU Soil and Plant Testing and Diagnostics Lab will provide agriculture-related testing and diagnostic services, along with science-based management recommendations, for people in Colorado and beyond.


Rendering of Hydro
  • WATER QUALITY: Denver Water – Colorado’s oldest and largest water utility – is opening a new and expanded water quality lab in the Hydro building. It will have capacity to conduct more than 200,000 tests each year to help ensure high-quality water for some 1.5 million people in Metro Denver.
  • THE CREATIVE PROCESS: Watch artists at work in CSU Spur studios that look out on the South Platte River.
  • THINK AGAIN: CSU Spur will host three think tanks that examine policies and practices related to agriculture and the environment. They are: the CSU Salazar Center for North American Conservation, the North American Agricultural Advisory Network, and Together We Grow.
  • MEET AND GREET: Ample meeting space will be available for businesses and organizations looking for a convenient Denver location.
  • RIVER RESTORATION: The South Platte River runs along the western edge of CSU Spur, providing a backyard for the Hydro building – and a focus for its water-related programs. The river is undergoing major cleanup and restoration led by the city and county of Denver and its partners. The project will transform the riverfront into a main attraction at Spur and the entire National Western Center.
  • EAT UP: Grab a bite at the Hydro café. The menu will feature produce grown on site.
  • ON STAGE: A flexible theater space will provide a site for performing arts, lectures, film showings, and other events. Seats 250.
  • HEADWATERS: Did you know Colorado is a “headwaters state”? Snowmelt starting high in the mountains flows outward from the Continental Divide and supplies water in Colorado and other states. Landscaping outside the Hydro building will help visitors learn about our four major watersheds – defined by the South Platte River, Arkansas River, Rio Grande, and Colorado River.


Aerial rendering of the National Western Center campus
  • FLORA AND FAUNA: What kinds of plants and animals live in the South Platte River near the National Western Center? CSU scientists and collaborators are learning with a series of biological inventories called Spur bioblitzes. The events have already tallied hundreds of plant, bird, and mammal species.
  • BEE NICE: Gardens will be abuzz at CSU Spur: They’re designed to attract bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinators.
  • HOT TAKE: Dirty water produces clean energy at the National Western Center. It’s thanks to an innovative system that captures thermal energy from Denver wastewater – issued by thousands of showers, tubs, dishwashers, and toilets – and then uses it to heat and cool buildings. It is the largest sewer-heat recovery system in North America and will fill 90% of heating and cooling needs in buildings at the center.
  • STUDENT AID: Students from the 80216 ZIP code, which covers the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods near the National Western Center, are eligible for the newly established, $10,000 CSU Spur Scholarship. The need-based scholarship is for students admitted to CSU, CSU Global, or CSU Pueblo. The first recipients are attending in 2021-2022.
  • ROAD SHOW: Campus programs hit the road with a mobile lab called Sci on the Fly. It’s a truck-and-trailer rig that delivers engaging STEM education to communities statewide, with help from computers and wireless Internet technology. Look for the mobile lab at county fairs and other community events. It’s run in partnership with CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
  • SCIENCE IS BEAUTIFUL: CSU Spur will feature eight installations of public art, created by artists in Colorado and beyond. These pieces contemplate the essential roles of food, water, and health in our lives.
  • NEW DEGREE: Students seeking advanced learning in food entrepreneurship and food systems may enroll in a new CSU master’s degree program, which will hold classes in person at CSU Spur. The degree program is called Master of Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management. Classes start in August 2022.
  • POWER OF PARTNERSHIP: The CSU System has partnered for several years with Bruce Randolph School, a Denver public school with students in grades 6-12. Programs tied to CSU Spur, nearby, have encouraged students toward college and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The partnership recently has yielded a new teaching garden, a horticulture course offering college credit, and a Youth Action Team that gets students involved in community decision-making and internships at the National Western Center.

Photo at top: Vida, Spanish for “life,” is a building dedicated to programs in animal and human health. It is the first of three to open at CSU Spur at the National Western Center, with a public grand opening set on Jan. 15.