Greeley Ice Haus
In Greeley, Colo., residents had high expectations for their ice arena. They looked to the facility to help re-energize their downtown and boost economic opportunities.
Such endeavors can be trickier than landing a triple axel. The Greeley Ice Haus, however, executed it perfectly. The facility has helped rejuvenate the northern Colorado town, providing both jobs and attracting residents to the city center.
As a significant player in downtown revitalization, though, the building couldn't look like a traditional ice rink. Many ice facilities are built using prefabricated metal buildings with inexpensive siding. While the barn-like look works in many communities, it was not appropriate for this historic district.
The Ice Haus was designed carefully so that its exterior facade reflects strong, rich, traditional architecture while enclosing a state-of-the-art operation. Drawing inspiration from the downtown train station, designers used brick and concrete masonry units to give the building a more substantial and long-lasting presence, creating warmth and blending in to the urban context. A mixture of brick at the entry and street frontages combine with glass and metal walls to provide an interesting contrast while preserving the appropriate scale and character. The upscale look set an undeniable tone for future downtown redevelopment. It announced, in no uncertain terms, that Greeley was dedicated to rejuvenating the area.
"It makes a pretty serious statement about the downtown and the commitment to the downtown," says architect Andrew Barnard. "It sent the message that these are the materials we're going to use, and we're going to do it well."
Such exterior upgrades, however, came at a cost. In order to pay for the finishes, Greeley officials opted to go with one rink instead of two. Ken D'Amato, the director of recreation for the City of Greeley, does not regret the decision. The downtown has seen a surge in visitors, in part to the Ice Haus and also in part to the new adjacent Greeley History Museum. Both of these were quality-of-life projects strongly approved by the voters in 2001.
"We are proud of the role both have played in the revitalization," D'Amato says. "It has made a strong impression in the downtown."
Inside the Ice Haus, materials are straightforward and sturdy. Exposed concrete masonry unit walls are used in areas where color, texture and durability are key features, while gypsum board walls were used in offices and other areas worthy of a nicer, yet less heavy-duty finish. The NHL-size ice sheet provides seating for nearly 1,000 spectators, a combination of fixed-back chairs and benches, as well as several wheelchair spaces with excellent views. The upper level has three large and versatile meeting rooms, two of which overlook the ice surface. The rooms—which can be rented out for the public or used during special events—offer much needed multipurpose space in the downtown area. The facility also offers two small business opportunities to the community. Both the pro shop and snack bar are contracted out, arrangements which further the Ice Haus' goal of being an economic engine for Greeley.
"We have made a dramatic impact," D'Amato says. "It's a jewel for the community and a point of pride."
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