LARAMIE – A wide array of video and audio innovations will make the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center a technological wonder and showcase the University of Wyoming and its history.
“In many ways, the exhibits will truly put the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center over the top,” says Ben Blalock, UW Foundation president. “The building itself is an architectural marvel. For UW’s future students, alumni and friends, this will be the university’s signature facility. When you walk into the building and see all the messaging components tied to UW, the first response will be ‘Wow!’ For every member of the UW family, the Rochelle Gateway is going to bring greatest pride to their ties to Wyoming’s remarkable university.”
The most prominent of the exhibits will be the video screens that span two walls. They will be located at the corner of the McMurry Foundation Grand Atrium and War Memorial Concourse, and will collectively be made up of 30 individual video screens, each 42 by 68 inches. These screens are able to work individually or as a unit.
Content can be customized to heighten the visitors’ experiences. For example, if a group of prospective students is visiting campus, important information about the university can scroll across the screens. If alumni are having a reunion, information from when they were enrolled at UW and their photos can be shown on the screens. The video walls will have the capability to deliver content in real time — if the Cowboys are in a bowl game or a major world event happens, it can be transmitted on the wall.
Another prominent display will be the three-story graphic illustration of the Wyoming energy industry and the impact it has had on the state and the university. Below that, within the McMurry Grand Atrium, will be an interactive display focused on the Wyoming energy industry. This will have both static and flexible video elements, along with a touch-screen system that will allow visitors to find out more information about the energy industry’s impact on UW and how the university has influenced the advancement of Wyoming’s energy economy.
“There’s no doubt that, in the 21st century, energy is the driver of the Wyoming economy,” explains Mark Greene, UW American Heritage Center director. “As such, particularly given its very long history in the state — basically coterminous with the state’s existence — it is an important facet of the state’s history. You can’t really understand Wyoming without understanding the energy industry. The University of Wyoming also has had a direct and indirect role in assisting the energy industry in a variety of ways.”
The McMurry Foundation Legacy Hall is located across from the energy exhibit. On the east side of the hall will be a 30-foot timeline, which will be broken out into decades. The display will be split in half and contain both static and interactive elements.
Each half will have a video screen that slides on tracks and can be moved from decade to decade. The dynamic video screens will highlight key milestones that will be consistent throughout each decade, including notable alumni and faculty. Additionally, this unique video board will provide insightful details regarding Wyoming, world events, student life and the campus during each decade — from UW’s founding in 1886 to present day. Viewers will be able to touch the screen to access further media in each of these areas, including images, audio recordings or videos.
On the west side of the McMurry Foundation Legacy Hall, there will be a static display split into three sections that will highlight UW leaders, alumni and philanthropy. Two additional video screens will feature students, faculty, academics and athletics.
The Carol and Ramon Tomé Student Recruiting Center will feature an interactive and static display that focuses on student life. On the War Memorial Concourse, there will be a static display that emphasizes UW’s mission, vision and everything that makes the university great.
The three-story fireplace in the Rochelle Gateway office core, named the Ben Blalock Family Room (special recognition provided to UW Foundation President and CEO Ben Blalock by the UW Foundation Board), will have a large back-lit bucking horse, along with a slate backdrop that wraps around the sandstone. The names of all the leadership contributors who generously gave to make the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway possible will be permanently recognized.
“This is truly a university building,” says Toby Marlatt, senior associate vice president for marketing and communications who serves as the Rochelle Gateway project manager. “The building itself is the front door to the University of Wyoming. It’s unique because we are so focused on the brand, the message, the image and the tradition and history of the university.”
Advent, a design and marketing company based in Nashville, Tenn., is working with the UW Foundation to create the advanced technological displays that will share the story of the university and the state of Wyoming.
Bold and Beautiful Information
The process of creating display content will be collaboration between the American Heritage Center and the Foundation, but the historical information will come directly from the professional staff at the AHC, which is UW’s repository of manuscript collections, rare books and the university archives.
“The exciting part is that we’re in the business of connecting people with history — the history of the university, the history of the state, the history of the United States –and this is a golden opportunity to reach thousands of people that we would normally not be able to reach, and to allow them easy and enjoyable access to the university’s history,” Greene says.
Rochelle Gateway Center visitors will have the ability to experience UW’s history through interactive and static displays; and students, alumni and faculty will get the chance to see how they have or will become part of a storied tradition.
The information will be targeted to three different audiences: 1) striders, who are individuals moving through the building quickly and want some information on their way to another UW location; 2) strollers, who will walk up to the display and spend 30 seconds to a couple of minutes looking at the information; and 3) studiers, who want to examine the information and dive into the history.
“We try to balance the return for each of those three types of people,” explains Davy Fisher, design director at Advent. “We try to give the studiers enough so that, however deep they want to go, they can, and to make the information bold enough and beautiful enough that striders can appreciate and enjoy it and have a great experience, too.”
In addition to the historical component, the Rochelle Gateway Center will have current information available. It will be a mix of the past and present — and even a little of the future.
“The exhibitions are going to take you back to 1886,” says Blalock, “and they’re going to bring you to the present day and, even in some cases, will take you beyond present day to help you understand UW’s history and the future. The UW story is fascinating.”
The Story of Wyoming
While the technology in the building will be state of the art, it’s the stories highlighted on the screens that will draw in people. It will tie the past, present and future together. It will bring alumni, employers, students and visitors onto common ground. It is the story of Wyoming, the story of the university, the story of us.
“All the different stories we can tell are stories that truly make up the full story of the University of Wyoming,” says Blalock. “There will be stories of distinguished alums. There will be stories of student activities; stories regarding faculty research, athletics, the energy industry; and we’ll tell the many philanthropic stories that have elevated the University of Wyoming to where we are today.”
The Rochelle Gateway Center will be a wonderful place to experience the university. The exhibits will bring the people who truly define UW to life, allowing prospective students and alumni to find their place in the timeline and introducing visitors, friends and employers to the exceptional history, present and future of the university.
“When I started learning about the stories of the university, the stories of the people behind the programs, the stories of the students and alumni that have come up through the program, it’s really compelling,” says Fisher. “The focus of my job and (Advent) is to find and tell those stories. But it becomes more than a job and you get to the human beings underneath those stories, and actually fall in love with them a little bit.”
A State-of-the-art Welcoming Center
Plans for the 60,000-plus-square-foot Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center project — located on the corner of 22nd Street and Grand Avenue near War Memorial Stadium — began in 2008 and are featured prominently in the university’s long-range development plan. In July 2011, the UW Foundation Board, in partnership with the UW Board of Trustees, assembled a university facilities planning team and charged it with the direction and leadership of this project. Leadership members of the UW Foundation Board planning team are Greg Dyekman, Clayton Hartman (current chair), April Brimmer Kunz, Mari Ann Martin, Frank Mendicino, Scott Neu (current vice-chair) and Roy Cline.
The Rochelle Gateway Center and its exhibits will instill pride in UW’s students, alumni, faculty, staff and visitors, who will know immediately that they are entering the gateway to a remarkable university.
To learn more, go to www.uwyo.edu/gatewaycenter.