Designed by SRG Partnership, the 95,000 sf Washington State University (WSU) Everett University Center is the first building of a new branch university campus which dramatically expands access to higher education in the North Puget Sound region with concentrations in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Innovation Forum is the heart of the building—a four-story atrium linking major entry points and providing access to the full range of activities within. Serving as an “interior street,” the Forum is fronted by key student support elements with multiple “storefronts” for student services, a tiered lecture hall, a media-rich classroom, and the Capstone Studio, an upper-division lab providing students and industry partners a place for invention and innovation.
The focal point of the Innovation Forum is the cantilevered wood stair. Crafted locally with regional materials, the wood stair is both a reference to the history of the Pacific Northwest timber industry and a statement of modern engineering, combining renewable resources, creative ambition, and advanced manufacturing technologies.
The University Center building sets a high bar for energy performance and will serve as a baseline for future campus development. The exterior envelope has been designed to perform 10% better than state energy code, with a 25% improvement in air barrier performance. A VRF system is used throughout the classroom and office spaces. Natural cooling and ventilation, coupled with a radiant floor, support the central commons. Heat energy harvested from the building’s data center is used in the hydronic floor system. A cornice of photovoltaic panels provides on-site energy generation as an integrated part of the architectural expression.
The innovative design of the University Center references the character of WSU’s home campus in Pullman, WA, while at the same time establishing its own unique identity and setting a precedent for future university development in the North Puget Sound.