University of Northern Colorado Commons – Greeley, Colorado

General Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson

Engineer: BHA Design

Architect: Semple Brown Design, P.C.

Completion Date: 2019


Colleges and universities throughout the Rocky Mountain region are increasingly being called upon to serve the needs of a wide swath of student experiences, abilities and wishes. Some of these things are essentials, and some of these things fall into the category of “nice to have”. When a building incorporates all of these things – the vital, the indispensable, the attractive and the fun – that’s when you know you have something special.

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) Campus Commons project, recently completed by the tradespeople of Encore Electric, was that type of project. Challenging from the start, the building started construction in November 2016 and was completed 2 ½ years later. A mix of office space, food preparation spaces, conference rooms, theatrical performance areas and a large, open area lobby measuring 114,000 square feet, the building was the vision of the leadership of UNC and was funded by donations from alumni, fees from students and a large financial commitment from UNC.

At the height of the project, there were 15 Encore electricians on site, working in all areas of the facility. The project consisted of several designers from different disciplines trying to conceptualize the performing arts theater and ancillary spaces. This created an increasingly high demand for intense coordination on the part of the different trades.

All parties involved did an exceptional job, with the Encore team consisting of Brian Penney, Mark Oehmke and Ryan Cropp leading the way for all.

“Without each of their thoughtful work through the tediously difficult process I truly believe the project would not have been as successful as it was,” said Derek Varnell, project manager.

There is a 400-seat multi-purpose room with very specific lighting requirements that were worked through by the Encore Electric team to specifications, a glass-enclosed art gallery for installation art and shows as well as a pie shop that features delicious pies of both the sweet and savory variety, as this reporter can attest.

One of the last pieces to be built out by the Encore Electric team was the 600-seat performance hall, a state-of-the-art facility that UNC says will host student performances as well as world-renowned visiting artists. (Watch a video on the construction of the performance hall by clicking here.)

“The performing arts theater is truly a beautiful space and will add a tremendous value to the campus,” Varnell said. “Both UNC and the multiple designers praised the elegant installation provided by Encore Electric and said it was some of the best they had seen in years.”

You can watch a video of the construction process, produced by the University of Northern Colorado, by clicking here.