New Residence Hall Scheduled to Open by Fall 2021; WWU also Planning New Science Building & Academic Support Services Facility

by Paul Cocke, Office of Communications and Marketing
  • Illustration of new residence hall on the current site of Highland Hall
  • Campus map of new construction
  • Computer graphic of new interdisciplinary sciences building
  • Diagram of new support building

Western Washington University will build a new residence hall at its main campus.

Western also is planning construction of two other new buildings, an Interdisciplinary Science Building and a Consolidated Academic Support Services Facility, pending final approval of state funding by the Legislature.

The new Residence Hall will be sited where Highland Hall and Highland Lounge currently are located at the Ridgeway complex of WWU residence halls. The Highland buildings will be demolished, starting in late September of 2019, followed by construction of the new facility, which is slated to be complete and open before fall quarter of 2021.

Design for the new building is under way. The new residence hall will have approximately 400 beds in a mix of room types, a net gain of 264 beds after accounting for the loss of beds at Highland Hall. Amenities will include laundry and storage, lounges, common kitchens, kitchenettes in some units, and study areas. Other possible amenities include a café, multipurpose flexible spaces and living-learning spaces. In meetings, focus group comments, and participation in conversations with architects, engineers and University administrators, students and their leadership continue to participate and provide valuable perspectives about the project.

The new residence hall is being designed to appeal to a variety of students by price point and amenities, and is expected to help retain upper division students who often desire room types not currently available on campus, thereby mitigating the demand in the local rental market.

The total budget for the project, including construction, is estimated to be approximately $65 million, with the funding coming from a combination of revenue bond proceeds and current cash in the University Residence system.

The project is targeting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold rating. LEED certification is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Site improvements will include pedestrian pathways and improved lighting from the north end of the Ridgeway complex to campus.

The new residence hall construction project will take the adjacent parking lot 14G offline through the project duration. Prior to closing the lot the contractor will construct a new displacement parking lot south of Science Lecture and west of Morse Hall in the grass field.

The University has contracted with Mahlum Architects of Seattle and Lydig Construction of Spokane to design and construct the new facility.

About 4,000 students live in Western’s residence halls on its main campus in Bellingham.

This spring and summer, Western is completing a two-year, $24.5 million renovation of the Buchanan Towers residence hall on south campus.  In 2011, Western opened a five-story, 105-bed addition of about 37,000 square feet to the east side of the Buchanan Towers building. The addition is not part of the current renovation of the older part of Buchanan Towers, which was built in 1971.

The new Interdisciplinary Science Building is planned to be sited south of the WWU Biology building and parallel to the adjacent road with a sky bridge connection to the Biology building.  

Construction of the approximately 50,000 square-foot building is slated to begin January 2020 and be completed by fall 2021. The new building will provide greatly needed lab and classroom space, including flexible teaching labs and active learning spaces in biology, chemistry and several other STEM degree programs; this also will enhance Western’s ability to expand pre-healthcare degrees to help address a statewide shortage in healthcare workers.

The total budget for the project, including construction, is anticipated to be approximately $66.5 million, with the funding coming from Washington state appropriations. Site improvements will include pedestrian pathways, integrated landscape, lighting and hardscape around the building.

The project is targeting LEED Gold rating.

The University has contracted Perkins + Will of Seattle and BN Builders of Seattle to design and construct the new building.

The new Consolidated Academic Support Services Facility will be located just south of main campus and adjacent to the University’s physical plant on the 900 block of 25th Street.

The facility will consist of open and flexible office space to accommodate nonacademic staff, creating more capacity on the core of campus for academic functions. Construction is slated to begin summer 2019 and be completed by fall of 2020. Site improvements will include pedestrian pathways, integrated landscape, lighting and hardscape around the building.

Pending legislative approval, the facility will be financed through a state-issued Certificate of Participation sale.

The project also is targeting LEED Gold rating.

The University has contracted Mortenson Construction of Seattle and Henry Klein Partnership Architects of Mount Vernon to design and construct the new facility.

Western will make an informational presentation on the University’s development plans at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 at the Mayor’s Neighborhood Advisory Commission meeting in the Library Lecture Room at the Bellingham Public Library. Neighborhood representatives will be invited to learn more and provide input on the University’s development plans.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 4:36pm