Casper College has new look

2013-09-09T06:00:00Z 2013-09-09T13:35:30Z Casper College has new lookBy LEAH TODD Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
September 09, 2013 6:00 am  • 

A piano melody drifted into the atrium of the Music Building at Casper College.

Eric Unruh’s ear perked up. He turned to face the direction of the sound, which came from a nearby practice room with an open door.

“That’s Bach,” he said. “I can tell it’s Bach.”

Unruh, the dean of Casper College’s School of Fine Arts and Humanities, stood inside the entrance of his school’s new 32,000 square-foot music building amid a flurry of students and faculty Thursday afternoon.

Though parts of the roughly $16 million building — such as its recording studio and acoustically isolated concert hall — are still under construction, students and faculty moved into what was finished when classes started Aug. 26.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” Unruh said.

Unlike the old music building across the street, spaces in Casper College’s new music facility are sound-isolated. Practice rooms are carpeted, with soundproof barriers on the walls and ceilings. A roughly two-inch gap separates the new concert hall and percussion practice rooms from the rest of the structure. The design prevents vibrations from bleeding through floors and walls. Air in the new building’s heating and cooling system moves slower and through wider ducts, Unruh said, making less noise than in the old building.

“Even the air is noiseless,” Unruh said. “It creates a real environment for performance.”

A small art display decorates a glassed-in room near the Music Building’s main entrance. Art there will rotate in conjunction with the school’s upcoming recital series, Unruh said. The concert hall will seat 419 when it’s finished, and the first performance is scheduled for mid-October, he said. Its acoustics are designed for performances without microphones, encouraging sound to flow freely.

On a recent visit to the under-construction concert hall with fellow faculty members, Unruh said one of them, a soprano singer, took the stage on a whim.

“She just let out a few notes,” Unruh said. “And we all stood there with goosebumps.”

UW/CC’s new home

Rich Fujita stood near four stories of scaffolding and described the vision.

Fujita, director of public relations for Casper College, pointed to a nearby nook protected from the wind that will soon house a gas fire pit. He gestured in the direction of the college’s current dining hall, saying it will be green space after the building is demolished next year.

“And everywhere we had a little extra space, you’ll see couches, benches, chairs, tables,” he said.

The University of Wyoming/Casper College Center, still under construction at Casper College, will house all sorts of student services and lounges, a cafe and a new, state-of-the-art dining hall whose kitchen is in the running for largest in the state, according to Zac Byard, a field engineer for the company completing the construction project.

It will also provide an indoor thoroughfare to get from one half of campus to the other, Fujita said, encouraging foot traffic instead of driving.

“There’s some motivation now to walk instead of drive,” he said.

The $32 million building, funded in part by a $35 million local bond measure and contributions from UW, is a new home for the nearly four-decade-long partnership between Casper College and the university.

“Almost everybody for UW on Casper College’s campus will be in this building,” Brent Pickett, associate dean and director of the outreach school at UW/CC, said while touring the building Thursday afternoon.

UW will occupy part of the 95,000 square-foot building, which is complete with classrooms designed for education majors and spaces for students taking video conference classes taught on the university’s main campus in Laramie. Pickett said the university’s current outreach building on Poplar Street in Casper will be vacated and likely sold once the new facility at Casper College is finished in January.

Reach county reporter Leah Todd at 307-266-0592 or leah.todd@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @leahktodd.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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