CHALLENGE. Colorado State University has embarked on a groundbreaking effort to create an undergraduate and graduate level equine-assisted therapy program – and they turned to Populous to design a state-of-the-art facility to house the new program. The Temple Grandin Equine Center (TGEC), focusing on equine-assisted therapy research and education, will celebrate and elevate the role of the horse in society through the physical and emotional benefits of serving those in need. The TGEC is part arena, part barn, part professional therapy center, part conference center, and part classroom space, creating a unique opportunity for Populous to blend its proficiencies across multiple markets in one building.
INNOVATION. The TGEC is a benchmark facility – the first in the world of its kind – that will serve students, therapy clients, academic researchers, industry professionals and the community simultaneously. The facility will house a professional equine-assisted therapy program with a large indoor 80’x140′ arena capable of opening for full natural ventilation, a second indoor arena, a stall barn with custom tack-up and grooming areas, a specialized ramp with adaptive crane to assist clients when mounting horses, elevated viewing areas for arena therapy session observation, four therapy rooms for physical, occupational, speech and other therapy sessions and a 30’x40’ divisible classroom with a retractable glass wall providing views and access into the arena as well as two sided glass windows for observation of activities in the physical, occupational and speech therapy rooms.
An administrative area provides staff offices for the professional therapy program as well as faculty and graduate students. Outside, the modern entry features etched glass depicting actual floor plans reflective of Dr. Grandin’s research on livestock handling facilities and a walking sensory trail that tells the story of her continued impact on animal sciences. The trail winds through the grounds providing participants with opportunities to engage skill apparatus and activities on horseback as they ride along the scenic landscaped path and enjoy the beautiful views of the CSU Foothills Campus.
The shape of the trail is a 1 to 1 scale layout of an “S” curve cattle chute which is the most essential and revolutionary component of Dr. Temple Grandin’s livestock handling designs, whom the facility is named for. Plaques along the trail create a timeline highlighting significant moments in Dr. Grandin’s story. The path is composed of many varied paver patterns, colors, landscape elements and textures to serve as a sensory trail for patients with autism. The termination of the sensory path is a natural playscape play area for children, composed of large boulders and other elements found in the Colorado landscape.
IMPACT. The planned facility will assist those with autism, injured military veterans coping with PTS and traumatic brain injury, physical, occupational, speech and other therapy patients, and others with emotional and developmental disabilities. Through careful design considerations that allow for the greatest level of accessibility and connectivity between the classrooms, arena, barn and shared public spaces, students, families, and patients will all receive a groundbreaking experience – and an opportunity to be part of living research as the program grows, evolves and shapes future approaches to equestrian therapy across the globe.