By Eric Althoff
GREELEY, Colo.—A college campus can be intimidating, particularly for 18-year-olds stepping onto one for the first time. Thus, Aims Community College has a new Student Welcome Center that aims to be a warm transitory portal from everyday life to the higher learning environment.
Architecture and design firm Hord Coplan Macht designed the 105,720-square-foot welcome center, which is envisioned as a comforting space for students. It is meant to be the first place on campus new students see at Aims and will also be the space where they enjoy their graduation ceremony—thus creating a full circle for the student experience at the college.
Inside, the welcome center will be home to offices for admissions, academic records, enrollment, financial aid, counseling and various other divisions. To host large gatherings, the building features a 1,300-seat auditorium that can be further divided for smaller events. An additional 800-seat ballroom with a rooftop patio will also be available year-round. A second-floor skybridge will allow people to have stellar views onto the welcome center’s courtyard as well as peer down at the first floor.
Hord Coplan Macht’s design aesthetic for the welcome center took note of the area’s farming community and the natural features that help keep that industry going. Accordingly, the facade features a metal structure that wends along the front of the building to unite two different bars, which stand in for the educational institution itself as well as the agribusiness interests of surrounding Greeley—known for producing beef, dairy, sugar beets and grain, all of which depend on the South Platte and Cache la Poudre rivers.
Hord Coplan Macht worked on the $55 million project in conjunction with general contractor Fransen Pittman. In a statement to School Construction News, an architect with Hord Coplan Macht said that the firm was rather cognizant of the importance of the project both to Aims as well as the educational sector of the Centennial State.
“Aims Community College plays a vital role in students’ academic success in Northern Colorado, and the college feels a tremendous responsibility to provide value to their students and the community,” stated Jennifer Cordes, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Higher Education Market Sector Leader at Hord Coplan Mach. “The new Welcome Center was the new front door for the Aims CC’s main campus, and it needed to be inviting and welcoming to current students, prospective students, alumni, staff and community members. Additionally, the school was planning to revolutionize student services to better support their students; the building also needed to support this operational innovation.”
Hord Coplan Macht maintained they are proud of their design work on the welcome center, but one particularly rewarding part of the work was adding an interactive exhibit on the building’s first floor that relates not just the history of the school but also the tale of Colorado as well.
“With interactive displays and historical data provided by the college,” Cordes added, “prospective students and visitors can learn how Aims has been an integral part of the Greeley community since its inception.”