NCAR Wyoming Supercomputing Center

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
Architectural Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Programming
Advanced Industries
Cheyenne, WY
Project type
New construction
BD+C New Construction LEED v2 Gold
Select photos courtesy of UCAR

A signature facility embodying the client’s mission

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) is dedicated to advancing scientists’ understanding of climate, weather, and other Earth and atmospheric processes. Our team had the opportunity to design a data center to be a leader in energy efficiency while housing some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

Driving concepts for this unique facility were efficiency and simplicity: efficiency of function and energy usage, and simplicity of planning, form, and materials. Transparency was also a primary design goal with respect to the physical environment as well as NWSC’s desired relationship with the public and the academic community.

Project Goals

  • Design a facility with the smallest possible carbon footprint
  • Design to Tier II (Uptime Institute classification)
  • Provide a facility that meets PUE<1.1 (on a yearly basis)
  • Minimum of LEED Gold certification (emphasizing low energy system performance)
  • Simplify and lower cost of mechanical and electrical usage
  • Showcase unique features of the building’s energy and earth stewardship
  • Design the facility to be modular, scalable, and upgradable
  • Provide a building that is functional, delightful, comfortable, and safe for occupants and visitors

What delighted me most was how well everyone worked together and their personal investment.  [Treanor] said they believe in customer service and they provided it time and time again. They really listened to us. They listened to what we had to say and what we needed . . . Those are the kind of people I want to work with.

Krista Laursen, Assistant. Director of Facilities & Large Projects Office

From collaboration to consensus

Recognizing the complex partnership of stakeholders and UCAR/NCAR’s desire to be fully engaged in the design process from the very beginning, we used a participatory design process to integrate the expertise of each individual into the fabric of the design.

UCAR/NCAR’s work with community partners included the University of Wyoming, the State of Wyoming, the National Science Foundation (NSF), Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Business Council, and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power. This collaboration resulted in transparent and open communication with stakeholders. Not only was the project delivered on schedule and within budget, but the process was client-focused with collaboration and client satisfaction as an important goal.

Triple bottom line sustainability designs

Consistent with its mission to advance scientific knowledge, education, and service through high-performance computing, the facility was designed to be a leader in energy efficiency, incorporating the newest and most efficient designs and technologies available. Daylighting, natural heating and cooling, and efficient water use were optimized to meet the stringent goals of energy efficiency and sustainability.


Modular design for future-proofing

The facility was designed with a flexible, modular approach to enable the facility to house multiple generations of supercomputer-class systems as computing technologies change in the coming years. Special attention was paid to the city of Cheyenne’s unpredictable weather conditions, addressing “high, dry, cool climate” issues with a focus on environmental stewardship.

The result of the high level of collaboration and partnership throughout the process is an award-winning, signature facility. This data center represents the collaborative partnership between local, state, and federal government entities and private industry as both a state-of-the-art facility, as well as an educational facility. With design features that enable it to respond quickly and efficiently to changing conditions both inside and outside the facility, this LEED Gold Certified project achieves NWSC’s aesthetic, functional, and sustainability goals.

We came up with a great facility! Our team was highly engaged in the design and [Treanor] was very understanding of this. We were a challenging customer (technically) and the [Treanor] team was very accommodating. It was completely a team effort and that is due to [Treanor] listening to what we wanted and needed and making it happen.

Amy Smith, Contract Manager, UCAR

Project contact

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