Dick Cheney Federal Building/Post Office, Casper, WY
The Dick Cheney Federal Building was constructed in the Formalist style of modern archtiecture and consists of an east and west wing. The west wing is a four story tower with a basement and penthouse and the east wing is one story with a mezzanine level and basement. The structure of the building consists of reinforced concrete beams and columns. The exterior walls are clad with precast concrete panels. The site has maintained most of the original layout with landscaping on the public sides of the building, a public parking lot to the south of the building and employee parking to the north of the building.
The east and west wings are both clad with precast concrete panels (referred to as “cast stone” on the original drawings) but they are applied differently on each wing. The precast panels are white concrete with exposed white stone aggregate. The west wing has vertically oriented panels separated by vertical precast concrete ribs that run from the ground level to the parapet cap. Every other panel has a fixed bronzed aluminum frame window with bronze tinted glazing at the first through fourth floor levels with a short integral sill and header cast into the panels. The penthouse level is stepped back from the lower floors and is clad with solid precast panels. The link that connects the west wing to the east wing has precast panels around a bronzed aluminum storefront system. The east wing has a precast colonnade on the lower half of the elevations with solid 15’ tall precast panel above it. The colonnade has precast columns infilled either with storefront glazing systems or concrete panels. All of the roofs are flat.
The main (south) façade faces East B Street and each wing has a separate entrance. The entrance on the west wing is recessed into the façade and is the original aluminum storefront system with three doors. The recessed walls are precast panels and the soffit is plaster. A cast bronze seal is located on each side of the recessed entry and the cornerstone is set into the wall to the west of the entry doors. The building identification and address in aluminum lettering is mounted directly above the entry recess. The entry to the east wing is a vestibule that projects out from the building. The south elevation of the vestibule is clad with precast brown concrete panels with corrugated ribs. Letters indicating the building identification and location are mounted to this wall. The west lobby elevation has a bronze aluminum storefront glazed system with corrugated bronze panels above. The east lobby elevation has a bronze storefront glazed system with sliding doors. The rest of the south elevation of the east wing is the standard detailing for the wing – a colonnade capped by precast panels. All of the recessed areas of the colonnade are infilled with bronze aluminum framed fixed glazing with a bronze tint.
The west elevation consists of a monolithic treatment of the standard detailing typical on the west wing. The north elevation of the west wing also has the same detailing but is interrupted by an entry on the first floor. The entry is an aluminum glazed doors with a sidelight and the vertical ribs stop 15’ above the door. The east elevation of the west wing continues the rhythm of the other elevations, interrupted only by the link. The north elevation of the link has solid precast panels on the first floor and overhead garage doors at the basement level that provide access to the parking garage. The walls on either side of the drive to the garage are exposed concrete foundation walls. The west elevation of the east wing faces the drive and all of the openings between the colonnade are infilled with concrete panels. The north elevation on the east wing was originally the post office loading dock. Today only one of the bays is still used as a loading dock, one has been infilled with brick, one has been infilled with an aluminum storefront system with double doors and the other openings have been infilled with aluminum windows.
The east elevation of the east wing has a colonnade in the same rhythm as the south elevation. The recessed openings in the colonnade are infilled with solid concrete panels or aluminum framed fixed glazing. The entrance in the center of the façade is an aluminum storefront system with a single door. A cast aluminum seal and aluminum letters are mounted above the door.
The least altered interior spaces in the building are the lobbies. These spaces retain their original layout and the majority of the original materials including terrazzo flooring and travertine wall panels. The corridors in the west wing have been mostly retained in their original layout with some of the original materials. The tenant space in the west wing has been remodeled over the years and was designed to allow changes. The east wing has been significantly remodeled. Originally, the entire wing was occupied by the Post Office but now it only occupies about a third of the building and the rest has been remodeled and converted to tenant space.
Present-day Casper, Wyoming got its start as a way station for pioneers traveling along the Oregon Trail during the 1800s. The area was further expanded when the railroad came to Casper in 1888, which allowed it to continue to grow and expand. A federal office building was constructed in Casper in 1916 and replaced by the Casper Federal Building, completed in 1932, since the growing needs of the city outpaced the space in the 1916 building. The city of Casper continued to prosper and grow and by the mid 1960s, the Post Office and other federal agencies had outgrown the available space at the Casper Federal Building (now called the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse), so a new facility was needed. Funds were gathered and the planning and design of the building began.
In 1966, a site a few blocks away from the existing Federal Building was selected and surveyed. The Post Office and Federal Office Building (now called the Dick Cheney Federal Building) was designed by Engstrom & Deines and J.T. Banner & Associates, Inc. Harold Dahlim Engstrom was the local architect, based out of Casper. He designed a number of buildings in the Modern style throughout his career. J.T. Banner and Associates was established in 1947 by Joseph T. Banner at Laramie, Wyoming. The firm offered engineering, architectural and consultation services. The final drawing set is dated November 1, 1967. The building cornerstone was laid by the west wing entrance and is dated 1970.
The Post Office and Federal Office Building consists of two wings connected by a one story link. The exterior of both wings is clad with white precast concrete panels. The east wing is a one story Post Office building with a mezzanine level and a basement parking garage. The first floor houses the Post Office lobby, workroom and offices. The mezzanine level has the employee restrooms and locker room, storage rooms and lookout galleries. The lookout galleries are walkways and platforms suspended over the workroom. The west wing (or Tower) is a four story tower that houses federal offices with a basement and penthouse level. Each floor has corridors in a figure eight shape that provide access to the tenant space and building support spaces. The tenant space is located mostly on the exterior side of the corridor and the building support space (vertical circulation, restrooms and mechanical/electrical rooms) is located in the center of the building. The important public space in both wings is the lobbies which have terrazzo flooring with an integral base and travertine wall panels. The terrazzo flooring continues throughout the west wing corridors on the first floor.
No additions have been constructed on the Post Office and Federal Office Building but a number of remodel projects were completed over the years. These projects include several space alterations in the west wing office space as tenant needs changed. The restrooms in the west wing were remodeled in the 2000s. An energy conservation retrofit occurred in 1980 and asbestos abatement occurred in 1984. With the exception of the lobby, the first floor of the east wing has been completely remodeled. The post office now occupies only a portion of the floor and the rest has been converted to office space. The post office store was remodeled in 1997. New roofing was installed on both wings in 1979, on the east wing in 1995 and the west wing in 2008. The site planters were reconfigured in 1989 and 2007.
In 1998, the building was renamed the Dick Cheney Federal Building. Cheney attended public school in Casper, Wyoming. He attended Yale University from 1959 to 1960 and then returned to Wyoming and attended the University of Wyoming where he earned his B.A. in 1963 and his M.A. in 1966. Cheney worked for the Nixon and Ford Administrations and then was elected to Congress to the at-large seat from Wyoming in 1978. He was reelected and served five more consecutive terms. While in Congress he became Chairman of the Republican Conference and House Minority Whip. Cheney was appointed Secretary of Defense in March 1989 by President George Bush and held this position until 1993. The name change was proposed by H.R. 3453 which passed unanimously on May 6, 1998 at a meeting of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. After the building was renamed, Cheney served as Vice President of the United States under George W. Bush from 2001-2009.