Wyoming Supercomputing Center Reaches Design Milestone

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and its managing organization, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), today unveiled design concepts for the Wyoming supercomputing center.

This is the second major milestone in the development of the supercomputing facility in the past six months, following the selection in March of an architectural design team led by Denver-based H+L Architecture and the California Data Center Design Group. The center, once completed, will be dedicated to advancing scientists’ understanding of climate, weather, and other Earth and atmospheric processes.

“We are pleased with both the design and what it signifies in terms of progress for this project,” said NCAR director Eric Barron. “It gives us a real sense of what the facility will look like and substance for the review process.”

Completion of the initial design phase represents an important milestone in the multi-step process used by the National Science Foundation (NSF), NCAR’s sponsor, to review the project. Construction of the facility will begin in spring 2010, pending the outcome of the reviews, with the center scheduled to open in 2011.

Today’s event was highlighted by the unveiling of color renderings of the proposed Cheyenne-based facility, based on construction documents that are 65 percent complete. One of the illustrations showed turbines from the Happy Jack Windpower project in the background and a group of four pronghorn antelopes in the foreground.

“The visuals and renderings from H+L Architecture are extraordinarily helpful in showing how the data center will be laid out on the site and how it will look,” says Krista Laursen, who manages the project on behalf of NCAR. “They give NCAR, UCAR, the University of Wyoming, and the public a sense of the scale and planned configuration of the facility.”

The Wyoming facility is being developed in partnership with the University of Wyoming, the state of Wyoming, Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power. It will contain some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality, and other vital atmospheric science and geoscience topics.

The center will also house a premier data storage and archival facility that holds irreplaceable historical climate records and other information.

“I join the enthusiasm of our partners at NCAR and in Cheyenne for the quality of the designs for the new supercomputing facility,” said UW President Tom Buchanan. “We’re pleased that the process has come so far so quickly and that we’re one step closer to beginning construction of the center. More than ever, the University of Wyoming is poised to take full advantage of all that the center will bring to our educational and research endeavors.”