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Awards / Honors

Celebrate! CSU: Brian Dunbar, 30 Years

April 12, 2013
By Katie Salvato

CSU is honoring faculty and staff who have reached service milestones during the 2012-2013 fiscal year at the annual Celebrate! CSU Milestones event, 3-5 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, in the Lory Student Center Theatre.

Brian DunbarBrian Dunbar, executive director of the Institute for the Built Environment, grew up surrounded by a family of architects.

“I thought going on vacation meant going to see buildings under construction, because it seemed like every time we went on vacation, my dad wanted to see something that was being built,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar grew up in Monroe, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan for his undergraduate and master’s degrees in architecture. He moved to Fort Collins with his wife, Karen, before landing a job.

“I just knew that I wanted to be here and I got lucky to find a job,” Dunbar said.

His first job was at Architecture Plus, which eventually helped him get a job with the university.

“One day, my boss was supposed to go over to campus to critique projects in the interior design program,” Dunbar said. “At the last minute, he had something  come up so he came to the studio – there were four of us working there – and I don’t even think he had finished asking who could sub for him at CSU when I raised my hand.”

The professors were impressed by the feedback he gave to the students, and the following semester Dunbar was asked to take a temporary teaching post with CSU.

“It was a perfect situation for me to see if teaching could be a good career move,” Dunbar said.

After one year, CSU hired Dunbar as a permanent professor.

Experiences at CSU

As a faculty member, Dunbar says one of his best experiences was teaching Sustainable Design and Construction in Costa Rica and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Dunbar’s son Gabe, a 2011 graduate of CSU’s Construction Management program, was one of his students in Costa Rica.

“Students were putting their heads together in a beautiful place, talking about how to treat the world like it ought to be treated, how we should treat every place in the world like it’s paradise,” Dunbar said. “Our buildings need to do that, our developments need to do that, and our cities need to do that. It’s easy to make that point when you are in a pristine, beautiful place, but can we do it everywhere?”

Brian Dunbar early in his teaching career.Dunbar’s greatest passion is helping buildings, especially schools, be as green and healthy as possible, and being able to teach the benefit of green buildings.

“When I get to spread that message, it’s hard to find anything more important than that to me,” he said.

Dunbar founded the Institute for the Built Environment in the College of Health and Human Sciences in 1994.

IBE is an institute that encourages interdisciplinary work between architecture, interior design, construction, engineering, real estate, and historic preservation. Dunbar says students from many disciplines have worked on projects and gone onto great jobs in green design and sustainable development as a result of their involvement in IBE.

 “I keep thinking about future generations and how important a healthy planet is for them,” Dunbar said. “Not just for humans, but for all creatures.”

To personally congratulate a Milestones honoree or group of honorees, please email your celebratory message to  no later than Tuesday, May 7. Your message might be shared with everyone during the Celebrate! CSU Milestones event on May 9.


Contact: Brent Waugh