Renovated Miller Hall at WWU Opens for Fall Quarter

Monday, September 12, 2011 - 3:30pm

Contact: David Willett, WWU Facilities Management, (360) 650-6813 or  or Paul Cocke, University Communications, (360) 650-3350 or

BELLINGHAM – The major renovation of Western Washington University’s Miller Hall has been completed and the building will open for fall quarter.

The $51.5 million Miller Hall project, funded by the Washington State Legislature, renovated the 134,000 square-foot building, located on the university’s Red Square. The project included renovations to general university classrooms, computer labs, instructional space, offices and support facilities for Woodring College of Education, Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the Center for International Studies.  All building systems (including electrical, mechanical, data, heating and air conditioning), elevators, roofing, windows and exterior elements for the aged building were replaced.

 “This significant renovation of Miller Hall, one of our campus’ most iconic buildings, will result in a substantially improved educational facility and place of learning for our students,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.

Miller Hall, originally WWU's Campus School, was built in 1943 and enlarged in 1968. Since then, no major renovation work had been done to the building prior to this project.

The Miller Hall building renovation generated 277 jobs directly related to the project construction and roughly 500 jobs total in Whatcom County, according to economic estimates based on “job years” (or the equivalent of one year of work per job). The project generated over $78 million in total local economic activity.

The building renovation has a strong green focus, incorporating a number of sustainable features. Windows are operable, mechanical systems in some areas use chilled beam cooling, and highly efficient lighting are combined with increased daylighting. “Deconstruction” took advantage of the salvage value of materials to recycle site and building waste to prevent useable materials from going into landfills.  Where possible, the project team used recycled and recyclable products as well as products purchased locally, such as certified wood products from the Pacific Northwest.  

A “green roof” was installed over the new Student Collaboration Space – where students can meet and study – built in the existing courtyard of Miller Hall. The green roof consists of a mat system of sedum plants, a flowering plant that requires little maintenance. The advantages of green roofs include: savings on heating and cooling costs; better sound insulation; reduction in storm water runoff and extra protection resulting in a longer roof lifespan.

The Miller Hall project was designed to achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating of Silver or higher. LEED certification is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. 

The first phase of the building renovation began in the summer of 2009 and was completed at the end of summer 2010. During Phase I, occupants from the 1960's wing were moved into the 1940's wing and other temporary spaces around campus while the 1960’s wing was completely renovated. Phase II included renovation of the 1940’s wing, which includes the portion of the building that housed the former Campus School.

The only portion of the building that will not open for fall quarter are classrooms in the 1940’s wing, which will open for use for winter quarter.

Dawson Construction of Bellingham was the general contractor and project construction manager. The project team also includes Mahlum Architects, Coughlin Porter Lundeen, civil and structural engineers; CDI Engineers, mechanical; Sparling, electrical and Berger Partnership, landscape architects.

On Nov. 2, a Renovation Re-dedication event – open to the public and campus community – will be held at Miller Hall.

More photos of the renovated Miller Hall are available online.

Photos by Matthew Anderson | WWU