On Wednesday, the University of Colorado Denver Business School and the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship celebrated the grand opening of the new Jake Jabs Event Center, Innovation Suite, and classrooms. Spanning the first three floors of the 1475 Lawrence Street building, these new spaces will help accommodate the growing demand for entrepreneurial and collaborative programming, events, and extracurriculars on the CU Denver campus.

The open house featured speeches, live music, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the new event center. Over 200 students, faculty, staff, and community members attended, including Mr. Jake Jabs himself. The CEO and founder of American Furniture Warehouse gave a $12 million gift to the Business School starting in 2013, half of which was used to fund part of the $11 million infill and renovation project.

Following a musical performance by Jabs and student bluegrass band, the Timberline Troubadours, University leadership took the stage to commemorate the project’s completion. CU President Mark Kennedy, Chancellor Dorothy Horrell, and Jake Jabs Center Executive Director Dr. Madhavan Parthasarathy individually addressed the audience to touch on the day’s historic importance.

“It is hard to imagine someone that we’d be more proud to have their name at the center of our Business School than Jake Jabs,” said President Kennedy. “This event center will have a long-lasting, wide-reaching impact on not just this university but the city, the state, and the many, many lives that transit through these halls.”

It took 15 months of construction to bring the 3,500+ square-foot space to life. Split into two sections, the first-floor event center is designed to transform into a variety of layouts, from a 450-person reception to a 60-person classroom. The space features artwork by Taiko Chandler; a donor wall; a catering kitchen; state-of-the-art projectors, screens, microphones, and cameras; and in-house AV and tech support.

The Innovation Suite on the second floor now houses the Jake Jabs Center, complete with three conference rooms and team offices. Students can expect additional programming, scholarships, research, and other opportunities in the new suite, including a student accelerator program set to launch this summer. These are all thanks to the other $6 million of Jabs’ gift to the Center.

“It was over 10 years ago that Mr. Jake Jabs and I had a conversation regarding our joint vision for entrepreneurship at CU Denver,” said Parthasarathy at the open house. “Fast forward to today, and I am pleased to say that we are moving closer to fulfilling this vision.”

The Center continues to grow its BSBA in Entrepreneurship program and is working to integrate more entrepreneurship classes into the MBA program as well as launch a brand-new Master’s in Entrepreneurship. It is Parthasarathy’s vision to involve as many disciplines across campus as possible.

“I have seen first-hand what happens when students from engineering, architecture, design, physics, and business collaborate with advisors and mentors from the business community: absolute magic,” he said. “These schools and colleges have accomplished so much individually; imagine what we can do together!”

Both Kennedy and Parthasarathy remarked that Jabs, one of Colorado’s greatest entrepreneurs, sets an extraordinary example for CU Denver students.

“Today is a great day for education in Colorado and a great day for the CU Denver Business School,” Jabs said. “The new expansion of the school makes it more inviting for the different colleges like engineering, arts, music, and more to connect with the Center and learn more business skills. It will make students more entrepreneurial, more innovative, and will give them more opportunities.”

Jake Jabs Event Center Facility Facts

The completed addition to the CU Denver Business School building now stands in what used to be a courtyard facing the alley between Lawrence and Larimer streets. Through this new space, the Business School hopes to participate in Denver’s “activated alleyways” movement.

Architect: Stantec
Builder: JE Dunn Construction
Cost: $11 million total construction cost, $6 million of which came from Jake Jabs’ donation

Construction Timeline: October 2018 – January 2020

Addition Details:

First Floor

  • 300+ seat Jake Jabs Event Center with layout flexibility, state-of-the-art AV control system, high-resolution LED projectors, microphones, and pan-tilt cameras
  • Artwork by Taiko Chandler
  • Adjacent catering kitchen
  • Donor recognition wall

Second Floor

  • All-new Innovation Suite for the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, including three conference rooms and team offices
  • 54-seat Executive Classroom with power-enabled desks, high-resolution LED projectors, and teaching podium

Third Floor

  • 94-seat Jake Jabs Auditorium with power-enabled desks, high-resolution LED projectors, and teaching podium
  • Two 10-seat seminar rooms with LED monitors and whiteboards
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CU Denver

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1475 Lawrence Street

Denver, CO 80202


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