Posted September 27, 2016 by Cooper Point Journal in News

Purce Hall Remains Unfinished

Construction on the new Lecture Hall Slated to be Completed Soon Despite Delays

By Chloe Marina Manchester

Construction of the new lecture hall, or rather, destruction of the old one, began July 2015. Originally, the new building, known as Purce Hall, was planned to be complete and ready for use by June 2016. However, current plans indicate the building will be ready by October 17. Purce Hall is named for the former president of Evergreen, Dr. Les Purce, who led the school for nearly half of Evergreen’s history.

As we know now, and could perhaps have predicted given how construction usually works, the building timeline did not meet its original goals for completion. As of September 16, a building official is scheduled to do an inspection, which will mark the start of the final building inspections. Final cleaning for the building is scheduled for September 20 with the final building inspection for the building’s Certificate of Occupancy set for September 23, three days before the beginning of fall quarter. Although the building will be structurally complete, the building’s upgraded technology will not be done to the point that the building can be fully used as intended.

One of the causes for construction delay was a Glaziers’ Union strike over the summer. Some 700 glaziers went on strike against the thirteen contractors that make up the Western Washington Glass Contractors Multi-Employer Group, including Absher Construction, the group hired for this project.

The Glazier’s Union was the only union working on the lecture hall involved in this strike. The collective bargaining agreement for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 5’s Glaziers Local 188 expired on June 30 after members rejected the employer’s’ offer of wages, work hours, and sick leave after weeks of negotiations. The strike lasted through most of the month of July.

One of the main issues driving the operations delay is problems with the audio visual (A/V) systems that instructors will be using regularly. The original system picked out for the building was over budget and a new system had to be chosen. These changes added time to the renovation meaning a completed A/V system would be impossible to get up and running by the start of classes.

According to the blog devoted to updates on the lecture hall written by Timothy Byrne, project manager, “A contingency plan has been in the works and it appears we should be able to shuffle some classes around to various spaces in the interim.” All the new classroom environments will be able to be used as needed by October 17, according to current projections.

The lecture hall project is a part of the Campus Master Plan designed in 2008 to guide campus facilities development and project what Evergreen will look like through 2020. The lecture hall building was one of the oldest on campus and as the Master Plan documents state, “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.” Accessibility problems in the old lecture hall were also cited as part of the need for the new building, which is designed in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

The building’s size was increased in the renovation, allowing for the same capacity of 700 students that the former lecture hall had, with the added benefit of a fully accessible building, classrooms, and restrooms. There will be a variety of room designs in Purce Hall including two large tiered lecture halls, each seating 280-300; four classrooms, two tiered and two flat, each seating 60-75; and two 25 person seminar rooms.

Byrne’s blog devoted to lecture hall updates is full of information about construction and technology that I, as a humanities student, completely fail to grasp. There are also self/project deprecating jokes, anxiety about deadlines, and a few hundred words about how the basement of the lecture hall looks like the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Evergreen is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification for Purce Hall. LEED is a third-party verification system for rating sustainable buildings. Both the CAB and Seminar II have LEED Gold ratings, as do the Lab I first floor and second floor renovations.

According to the lecture hall construction blog, there are four levels of LEED certification. Levels are determined by a points system. The highest level in this system is ‘Platinum,’ but Evergreen does not currently have any buildings rated at that level. Byrne writes, “Being able to achieve Platinum would be ideal for a college like Evergreen, but there are certain costs associated with a number of these points, thus you really need to strike a balance between costs and benefits.” On July 1, a post on the blog stated that they anticipated getting about 62 points, putting them well into the Gold level of certification.

At the time of this writing, the most recent progress update on the lecture hall was September 12. For more information go to the lecture hall blog written by Timothy Byrne,