By: Felix Chrome
Returning to campus this fall, the first thing I noticed was the lecture hall building had been largely transformed into a pile of rubble. Since school began, they have begun building but many students still don’t know what this work is intended to make way for. Work began to demolish the building in July, they are now rebuilding the lecture halls, and renovations expected to be finished at the end of June 2016. The project is part of the Campus Master Plan, created in 2008 to guide development of campus facilities and envision what Evergreen will look like through 2020. According to the Evergreen Facilities website “The overall goal of this campus Master Plan is to assist the College in translating the strategic goals and objectives of the various College units into a physical plan which identifies where the College should be focusing its resources to meet future demands on its facilities and land resources.” The lecture hall buildings is one of the oldest on campus, and the master plan documents go on to say, “The utility and technology infrastructure of the facility is well past its useful life and is requiring more maintenance effort to ensure that the building functions adequately.” The new lecture hall building is designed to be more accessible, with the administration citing this as a large problem with the current infrastructure. They wrote in Project Request, “the classrooms are all tiered and there is no disabled access to the presentation area for instructors, guest speakers or students with serious mobility disabilities.” Contractor Absher Construction was hired to complete the job. They elaborate on their website, writing about the project, “Absher will fully renovate the existing Lecture Hall on the Evergreen State College campus in order to provide state-of-the-art, adaptable and flexible instructional spaces configured to optimally support the class size needs and various teaching methods utilized on campus. A modest increase in the building’s size will allow the building to maintain the same head count for 700 students, while providing fully accessible building and classroom spaces and restrooms.” The new building is designed to have more variety in the types of curriculum it is useful for, with only two large tiered lecture halls, seating 280-300, but four classrooms, two tiered and two flat, each seating 60-75 and two 25 person seminar rooms. In justifying the project to the State of Washington Capital Projects Advisory Review Board the Evergreen administration said that another concern is sustainability, along with the college’s Public image, writing, “The renovation of the Lecture Hall Building will make a very visible statement of Evergreen’s commitment to sustainability at the main entrance to campus.” They went on to say the proposed project has the goal of garnering LEED Gold certification, and have hired consultants in sustainable design to work toward this. Contractor Absher Construction was hired in a bidding process to complete the project, which was designed by ZGF Architects. Construction will cost $11,000,000, with the total request in the biennium being $17,861,184 . Evergreen requested funding for the construction costs in the 2015-2017 Biennium Capital Budget Request, and that funding was approved, even as Evergreen’s overall budget faced cuts. Evergreen has been continuously facing budget shortfalls in recent years as enrollment has declined and the state has cutback on funding.