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The Ent Center for the Arts at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs Campus is a brand-new, state-of-the-art performing & visual arts and educational building at the foot of Pulpit Rock and overlooking downtown Colorado Springs and Pike’s Peak. The architecture of the building mimics the geometry and massing of the adjacent and iconic Pulpit Rock and features sweeping curves of metal and glass that maximize the views of the nearby Front Range. The building houses an art gallery, music practice rooms, three theaters, a music recital hall, classrooms and dance studios. UCCS approached the design team to create a comprehensive suite of interior and exterior signage, wayfinding and donor recognition that fit the elegant, clean and simple space, but that also connects to the theatrical and artistic uses of the building. As a relatively new campus in the University of Colorado system, UCCS wanted this project to serve as a crown jewel, establishing itself as a premier arts institution in the City of Colorado Springs and throughout the greater University of Colorado consortium.
Through extensive design development, review and refinement, the design team created crisp, white neon venue entry signage to draw attention to the large amenities in the facility that also doubles as donor recognition to identify high-donation named spaces. The simple, sans-serif typeface, use of white neon and juxtaposition with the adjacent brushed metal accents all tie the space to its theatrical and artistic roots and uses, while maintaining a modern, sophisticated and refined design aesthetic. The neon-inspired show business theme also carried into a large donor recognition wall, where donors’ signatures are rendered in blue neon. Additionally, the project team designed a participatory donor recognition installation that features glossy, gleaming acrylic tiles in a palette of reds and purples colors that are used as accents in the theater seats, carpeting and other finishes. In paying homage to Mark Rothko’s paintings, the participation installation provides another nod to the artistic uses of the building and serves as a fractal mirror that reflects Pikes Peak, the iconic mountain that is the subject of the famed song America the Beautiful and the most recognized landmark in Colorado Springs. The interior and exterior signage make use of building finishes such as brushed aluminum, flat-lock metal paneling and glass to unify the visitor experience and provide an elegant touch from the exterior to the interior spaces. Wayfinding signage is simple, elegant and clear, directing visitors, students, staff and performers throughout the space in a smooth way.
The scope of design for this project features 2 exterior building identification signs, 2 exterior signs identifying the campus affiliation, a large-scale digital monument sign, a suite of custom ADA-compliant glass room signs and changeable content signs, 13 white neon venue identification and named space recognition signs, a 10’x26’ donor recognition display featuring signatures of significant donors rendered in shades of blue neon, surrounded by dimensional type recognizing other donors, a 42’x6’ participation donor recognition display composed of etched acrylic tiles in varying depths with hues of purple and red, 6 restroom blade signs of water-jet cut steel and 9 wall-mounted wayfinding signs comprised of brushed aluminum dimensional type.
Although the Ent Center for the Arts only recently opened to the public, it has received rave reviews from the Colorado Springs community, having been featured in full-length articles in the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, on Colorado Public Radio (the local NPR member station) and on KOAA 5 News, the local NBC affiliate. Additionally users of the building and university personnel have cited this projects’ completion as a sort of the coming-of-age of UCCS." Drew Martorella the Executive Director of UCCS Presents notes that the opening of the building "means we have a leg up in attracting the kind of quality talent that you always hope to attract."