With plans beginning in 2008, University of Wyoming (UW) set out to build an extraordinary welcome center (perhaps unique in the country), which embodied, in every detail, the UW brand. As the first point of contact, planners envisioned a ‘wow factor’ that would awe everyone – from visitors, students, families, supporters, and the community alike. Completed in late 2014, the Gateway Center certainly delivers a stunning and consistent experience, from the fundamental architectural elements to the finest details woven throughout.
The state-of-the art Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center successfully fuses the university’s time-honored brand qualities with a leading-edge technological infrastructure. Designed by Pappas & Pappas Architects and DLR Group, the center combines the traditional with the contemporary and provides a spectacularly visual venue, which incorporates welcome areas, offices, ballrooms, conference rooms, exhibits, and more.
The center gracefully blends historical elements with high-tech tools in a true melding of the traditional and contemporary. Visitors experience the region’s culture through artistic displays, including the 20-foot bronze statue of Steamboat (Wyoming’s iconic bucking horse) and a robust heritage center; at the same time, guests enjoy the dramatic three-story atrium, dynamic displays, free Wi-Fi, and a 30-screen digital wall, as well as many other interactive features.
Before these finer details took shape, the building’s exterior needed to provide the impact UW envisioned – the ‘wow factor’. As the front door of the university, two vital requirements challenged the center’s designers: incorporating the historical sandstone as the primary building element and utilizing the UW brand colors in a visual and lasting way.
From 1886 through to the early 1970s, the university utilized the same sandstone quarried locally near Laramie, which became a signature look. When the quarry closed, a new natural stone supply was difficult to source, given inventory and color limitations. Fortunately, UW discovered that Arriscraft manufactures building stone which mimics natural sandstone in appearance and performance. Since 2003, Arriscraft has supplied a custom color blend as the signature sandstone for UW buildings.
Stone supplier, BrickStone Inc. and project leader Chet Lockard (of Project Guide Services) collaborated with UW to find not only a sandstone match, but also a palette that was a perfect representation of the UW brand. According to Mr. Lockard, “Only Arriscraft could dial in the color we needed. We wanted to create more excitement for the Gateway Center and they have a great range of standard colors, which also saved money on the project. The best thing about Arriscraft is that it’s no different than quarried stone, but it’s more [color] consistent.”
Careful to continue a very similar masonry pattern as existing buildings, Toby Marlatt, VP of Marketing and Communications at UW, helped create a 4” module pattern using Renaissance® Masonry Units in Garnet, Suede and Café colors in a rocked finish. The warm tan, red and brown tones combine to both brand the building and deliver the strong statement that the university was after.
The Renaissance® stone was continued throughout the interior of the Gateway Center, to maintain the rustic feel and provide the fundamental color palette for the interior design. In the interior atrium, ARRIS.stack thin stone covers the stunning 3-storey fireplace – a highly durable and impactful choice for this key visual feature.