High Country Conference Center taking shape

High conference country center

The conference center going up on the north end of campus now has a nameā€”the High Country Conference Center at Flagstaff.

The name and an update on the entire hotel/conference center complex was shared with the Flagstaff City Council at its work session on Monday. Many of the university’s partners on the project were on hand to bring the city up to speed on interior designs and the marketing and branding effort.

The High Country name tested well in surveys and “conveys a sense of character and location,” noted Rob Moore, managing partner of Lipman Hearne with which NAU has contracted for initial marketing and branding of the conference center. Moore also emphasized the regional, as opposed to national, focus of the conference center.

Dennis Vollink, president and engineer of Drury Southwest, and his associates showed interior finishes of the hotel that are designed to be representative of the area.

“We don’t have a cookie-cutter plan that we bring in and try to force on the site,” said Drury Southwest architect Dave Alberson. The hotel will have double the number of windows of other Drury hotels and solar domestic hot water, and Drury is seeking certification of the hotel as a green building.

Jack Black, design director for Ayers Saint Gross, which is developing the interior finishes for the conference center, said that the design also draws upon the surrounding area. He described the look as “soft, warm and sophisticated.”

“In a lot of ways, this sort of raises the bar in Flagstaff,” said councilman Joe Haughey about the design of the Drury hotel and High Country Conference Center.

President John Haeger advised the City Council that some matters relating to the conference center remain in negotiation. Those include transportation to and from downtown and to other hotels that provide overflow accommodation for conferences. Haeger said city and university officials continue to evaluate traffic issues at the Milton and Butler interface, and the university is still considering the addition of a restaurant.

Haeger described the project as a unique partnership with Drury, the city and the university and one that will have “enormous impact on Flagstaff and an enormous impact on Northern Arizona University.”

Three conferences have been booked for spring 2008. Information on the conference center is available at www.meetinFlagstaff.com.