April 15, 2024

Colorado Building Workshop at CU Denver Completes Construction of Holt Watters Field Camp in Antarctica

In early February 2024, the Colorado Building Workshop along with Bespoke Project Solutions and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fishery scientists completed construction on the two-year design build project in Antarctica.

The Antarctic Ecosystems Research Division of NOAA Fisheries conducts scientific research on the population dynamics, behavior, diet, and survival of Antarctic seabirds and pinnipeds on Livingston Island in Antarctica. After 20 years in the harsh Antarctic climate, their modest research facility fell into disrepair and required replacement. The 2000 sq. ft. Holt Watters Field Camp was conceived to replace the deteriorating structures. Three buildings comprise the main campus; the fourth, a remote penguin research facility, is a short one-mile hike away.

Construction on the second phase of the project began in late December 2023 and was completed within six weeks. Construction on the first phase took place in December 2022 and was completed in February 2023. Colorado Building Workshop faculty and alumni were a part of the construction teams in Antarctica, a unique experience for most anyone and a special opportunity for alumni of the program.

The four new buildings serve as replacement facilities for scientists studying wildlife at the Holt Watters Field Camp. The scope and design of the rebuild project include flat-packable prefabricated structures, weather-resistant construction, an off-grid power system, and housing and laboratory space for eight scientists. The new buildings will enable the continuation of NOAA Fisheries’ long-term science-based, ecosystem-based approaches to management in the Southern Ocean.

The impact of the new buildings will enable the continuation of NOAA Fisheries’ long-term science-based, ecosystem-based approaches to management in the Southern Ocean and bring essential data to the scientific community around the globe.

The project was a 2-year collaboration between the Colorado Building Workshop and Bespoke Project Solutions. Bespoke acted as the contractor and project prime, overseeing prefabrication, logistics, shipping, and construction in Antarctica.

Students and faculty from Colorado Building Workshop acted as the architects and prefabrication contractors while the structures were built here in Denver. The project would not have been possible without numerous community partners and collaborators, including KL&A Engineers, AE Design, Dake Collaborative, and OZ Architects.