WWU's Alma Clark Glass Hall honored by the AIA

by Lisa Brennan
Office of Capital Planning and Development

Alma Clark Glass Hall has won the highest level of recognition, Honor Awards, from both the American Institute of Architects Washington Council (AIAWA), in the Civic Design category, and from the Northwest & Pacific AIA. The Civic Design Awards celebrate quality design arising from collaboration between architects and their civic clients. According to the AIAWA website, the awarded projects “represent the finest standards in innovation, sustainability, building performance, and overall integration with the client and surrounding community.” Clark Glass Hall was the only project to win Honor awards in both categories, with jurors noting its great contribution toward supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus.  

In addition, the residence hall received an award of merit for excellence in architecture in a new building from the Society for College and University Planning. It has also achieved LEED Gold certification. Planning and design focused on equity, inclusion, sustainability, and opportunity, with goals of creating community, strong connections, and cultural understanding among students.  

Design challenges included bridging the 80-foot hill between north campus and the Ridgeway Complex in a way that makes the Ridge accessible to everyone and creating a vibrant, welcoming space that supports social, academic, and residential connections. Beginning with student listening sessions, the “Shared Journey” pathway that forms a single accessible route for all residents and visitors was created. The collaborative process helped ensure that student and community voices continued to be heard. 

The residence hall is named after Alma Clark Glass, the first Black student to attend Western Washington University in 1906. She is remembered as a confident, committed, and well-respected community leader who was deeply invested in advocacy work. She was a founding member of the Seattle branch of the NAACP, a lifelong member of the Washington State Association of Colored Women, chairwoman of the Seattle Self-Improvement Club, and served on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Urban League. 

Katana Sol, a Western Industrial Design student, won an open competition to design interior murals and graphics, saying of her designs, “it is my hope that black joy can be illustrated and inspiring for us to come together as a community to appreciate our accomplishments and beauty that makes us who we are.” The hall hosts the first Black Affinity Housing Community on Western’s campus, created in response to student feedback and requests for more identity centered spaces to advocate for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students on campus. 

Alma Clark Glass Hall welcomed its first student residents in September of 2021. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 10:42am
Alma Clark Glass Hall is let from the interior as dusk settles over the campus

Alma Clark Glass Hall has won the highest level of recognition, Honor Awards, from both the American Institute of Architects Washington Council (AIAWA), in the Civic Design category, and from the Northwest & Pacific AIA. The Civic Design Awards celebrate quality design arising from collaboration between architects and their civic clients.