Over 3,888,949 readers this year!

Building for life: Casper architects plan tour, presentation to celebrate quality architecture

Stateline No. 7 Architects founder Lyle Murtha, and project architect Anthony Jacobson pose in the firm’s conference room recently in central Casper. The two are involved in AIA Wyoming’s “World Architecture Month,” aimed at promoting the work of architects in the state. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Architects could be described as modern life’s unsung heroes.

Anything that involves a structure required an architect, whether the result was good, bad or simply functional.

Highlighting the importance of architecture — particularly good architecture and design — is the goal of AIA Wyoming’s World Architecture Month.

The movement among professional architects originally spanned a week in April, coinciding with Thomas Jefferson’s birthday and marking the third U.S. president’s profession as an architect.

To celebrate the month, Stateline No. 7 founder and architect Lyle Murtha and project architect Anthony Jacobson are encouraging Wyoming’s architects to give public tours and lectures of their projects in the hopes of promoting a better appreciation of good architecture.

“We’d like them to allow the public in and give them a better understanding of what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said Jacobson, “especially on certain projects.”

Design motifs touch on the early railyard that occupied the land where the new Thyra Thomson Office Building now sits in Casper. The building consolidated a number of state agencies under one roof. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City News File)

To make their point, the Casper architects are highlighting one of Stateline No. 7’s largest and most recent projects, the $45 million, 127,000-square-foot Thyra Thomson State Office Building that opened earlier this year. They plan on leading a public tour of the building on Oct. 27, starting at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to everyone.

“There are a lot of people that want to know about the process but didn’t have a way to do it,” said Jacobson, “so this is a way to allow the public to understand.”

“Some people already have interest in the State Office Building,” said Murtha. “We’ve had calls and requests for us to do a tour or presentation, and I think because the grand opening wasn’t advertised that a lot of people missed it.”

Murtha says other years they coordinated film festivals and open houses to commemorate the month-long celebration. This year, after taking some time off over the COVID pandemic, they hope more architects statewide become involved in showing off their projects.

“There are a lot of obscure projects out there that people don’t know about; that’s why we want to let architects put this information out there and get people to know about them,” said Murtha.

“There are a lot of misconceptions or even misunderstandings of what architects do, and the process we go through to create a set of documents and to build buildings,” said Jacobson, who is also chair of AIA Wyoming’s public awareness committee.

“A lot of people have this ‘Brady Bunch’ view of what an architect does, like sit there and draw pretty pictures all day,” said Murtha, “but that’s really a fraction of what we do.”

Jacobson says architects serve as project managers on larger builds, encompassing not only design, layout and materials, but also structural, mechanical, electrical and landscape, among other issues.

“We’re working with owners, working with building codes and all sorts of obstacles to get a project done,” he added, “and these kinds of presentations and tours can help people understand the big picture.”

Murtha says other areas of the state are also seeing interesting projects that local architecture firms are tackling, and was impressed by some of the projects he saw during a recent conference in Sheridan. “There’s some very interesting stuff; I was blown away,” he said.

Jacobson and Murtha say good architecture improves the entire community, particularly when historic buildings are reused in imaginative ways.

“It’s one of the greenest things you can do, to take an old building and put new life back into it,” said Jacobson.

“And they’re just cool,” said Murtha. “The character is just unbelievable. You can’t replicate that kind of character now, it’s too cost-prohibitive.”

A tour of the Thyra Thomson Office Building at 444 W. Collins Drive will be led by Stateline No. 7 Architects on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m. The tour is free and open to the public. More information on the tour can be found here.