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November 20, 2023

$79M STEM building to open at UW Bothell/Cascadia in January

Photo courtesy of Mithun [enlarge]
Innovation Hall is located between UW Bothell’s Discovery Hall, home of the School of STEM, and the CC3 Cascadia College building.

Come January, students at UW Bothell and Cascadia College will begin taking classes in a new $79 million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) building at the institutions' shared campus in Bothell.

Called Innovation Hall, the new academic facility is co-developed by UW Bothell and Cascadia College to meet the growing need for STEM graduates in Washington and help build a more diverse STEM workforce for the region.

The progressive design-build team of architect Mithun and general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis devised and built the hall.

Innovation Hall is four stories and 80,000 square feet with 21,500 square feet of program space for each institution and an additional 5,000 square feet of shared space.

It houses state-of-the-art laboratories for chemistry, biology, computer science, mechanical and electrical engineering, 13 classrooms and 34 faculty offices. Labs, classrooms, and offices are designated for each institution and are distributed across each floor of the building so that related STEM programs are located adjacent to one another.

Shared student gathering and study spaces are included to foster collaboration between the two institutions and create more opportunities for cross-disciplinary studies. These areas comprise a variety of environments for socializing, group, and individual study. Faculty offices also include open workspaces and shared breakrooms to foster engagement between college and university faculty and staff.

Photo courtesy of UW Bothell [enlarge]
The new academic facility houses state-of-the-art laboratories for chemistry as well as biology, computer science, mechanical and electrical engineering.

Innovation Hall is the first academic building in the nation to be shared by a community college and a university. In 2019, each institution received approximately $40 million in state funding for a new STEM facility, intended for two separate buildings. However, an escalation in construction costs and an interest in reducing site impacts led to UW Bothell and Cascadia College joining forces to develop a shared facility.

The building is also the first project procured under the University of Washington's approach to assembling progressive design-build teams for major projects by selecting the builder first and the design team following.

Construction of Innovation Hall began in July 2021 and wrapped up this month, but the building won't officially open until the start of winter quarter in January. A media event was held Thursday to mark the end of work.

Over the course of construction, the project team had to contend with both the COVID-19 pandemic and the concrete strike. “The collective team persevered through COVID, labor stoppages, materials shortages, and cost escalations, while consistently finding a new path through these challenges. Our progressive design-build approach coupled with the institution's robust incentive plan allowed us to deliver a project that we can be proud of and that offers significantly more instructional space than comparably priced academic buildings,” Brian Aske, operations director at Lease Crutcher Lewis, told the DJC. Aske is a fellow in the Design-Build Institute of America.

Mithun's design of Innovation Hall reflects the college and university's key objectives for the project, which were:

Maximize space for instruction and research.

Create environments to support collaboration.

Foster active and inclusive learning.

Strengthen interaction between the college and university.

Display a commitment to environmental sustainability.

The design decision to place program specific, rather than institution specific, spaces on each level encourages synergies between the academic co-developers. For example, UW Bothell and Cascadia computer science programs are both located on Level 1 of the building, and engineering programs are adjacent to each other on Level 2.

Shared student gathering and informal study spaces are also located in public spaces on each floor, adjacent to the building's main stair and central atrium, to bring university and college students together and foster peer to peer engagement.

Mithun also paid close attention to creating a space where people would want to be and fit in with the surrounding campus. Daylight and views of surrounding forest make Innovation Hall's indoor public spaces inviting places for students to gather. Colorful materials and finishes, comfortable furniture, wi-fi and writable surfaces further contribute to a welcoming, inclusive environment.

“Working with a tight budget, we utilized a simple palette of materials, daylight, and connections to nature to achieve the project goals: knit the building into campus, foster student engagement and put learning on display. Innovation Hall connects the college and the university physically and programmatically, providing career pathways to the region's high-demand occupations,” Walter Schacht FAIA, Mithun partner and partner-in-charge of Innovation Hall, told the DJC.

The hall's design also prioritizes sustainability. The building is targeting LEED Gold and maintains the campus's Salmon Safe and Bee Campus USA certifications.

“This collaboration with Cascadia College is a game-changer for students at both of our institutions,” Dr. Leslie Cornick, dean of UW Bothell's School of STEM, shared in a press release. “Students and faculty will have increased opportunities and cutting-edge facilities to collaborate and create new knowledge as we continue our commitment to increasing opportunity, equity and inclusivity and building a larger, more diverse workforce of the future,” Dr. Cornick continued.

“This project demonstrates the potential of the progressive design-build model. It fosters new and meaningful ways to collaborate, builds trust while taking risks together, maximizes the outcomes for the students and creates a place our clients will enjoy for a long time,” Lana Lisitsa AIA, Mithun partner and project manager for Innovation Hall, added.

The project team for Innovation Hall is comprised of: Lease Crutcher Lewis + Mithun, design builder; Mithun, landscape architecture; Mithun, interior design; Otak, civil engineer; KPFF, structural engineer; RFD, lab planner; 4EA, envelope; A3 Acoustics, acoustics; O'Brien360, LEED; Holmes/Robert Pielow, Codes; Studio Pacifica, accessibility; RMB Vivid, environmental graphics; CPP, Wind Study; WBLA, irrigation; ECS, elevator; Apollo/Glumac, mechanical/plumbing; Cochran/Hargis/AEI, electrical/telecom/AV; ISEC, lab equipment and casework; PCI, framing and partitions; Sargent Construction, windows and skylights; Shin Mechanical, fire protection; Kone Elevators, elevators; Janene S. Walkky, illustrations at East Stair; and Volkan Alk, sculpture at West Entry.

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