CWU News

CWU Health Sciences Facility Reaches the Halfway Point to Completion

Central Washington University broke ground on its new $60 million Health Sciences Building just more than a year ago. Despite challenges posed by the worldwide pandemic, such as a disruption in the global supply chain, the construction timetable remains on track.

“Fortunately, for us, we haven’t had too many impacts on this project when it comes to our supply chains,” said Capital Planning and Projects Director Delano Palmer. “Great teamwork from the general contractor, TW Clark, and their ability to work with their vendors helped us to keep on schedule so that we can maintain our opening for January of 2022.”

Health sciences building exterior photoThe superstructure of the 80,748-square-foot facility has been completed and work recently wrapped up on an enclosure of the entire structure, known as “dry in,” which Palmer calls a significant milestone.

“This allows us to pump heat into the building temporarily and continue construction through winter, which allows our trades to complete all of the interior finish work,” he explained.

With an eye on sustainability, the building is also being built “green,” with several innovative, energy-saving features, such as solar preheat air intake and heating and cooling recovery systems. Construction is being done in a way that will allow CWU to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification.

“Which means that the construction is focused on reducing its environmental impact all the way through occupancy and how people use, stay, and study in this building,” explained CWU Sustainability Coordinator Kathleen Klaniecki. “We’re tracking the waste generated through demolition and construction, where the building materials come from—are they regional, are they from recycled material, are toxic materials being used? We want stakeholders to realize how sustainable this building will be and understand how we are trying to reduce its environmental impact.”  

The Health Sciences Building will join Dean Hall, Hogue Technology Building, Barto Hall, and Discovery Hall as LEED-certified structures built on the Ellensburg campus in the past decade.
The three-story facility will house the university’s Exercise Sciences, Clinical Physiology, Nutrition, Paramedicine, and Public Health programs. Those programs currently are spread across four separate buildings and have outgrown their existing spaces. The new facility will be able to simultaneously accommodate up to 630 students in classrooms and laboratory spaces while incorporating technology that also supports virtual instruction.

Health sciences building interior photoVirtual and in-person instruction have already taken place inside the building this fall. CWU construction management students recently experienced a virtual walk-through of the building, including a question-and-answer session about new technologies and other aspects of the work being conducted.

“We decided to engage our CMGT (construction management) courses in the project,” Palmer said. “We have had several classes come out and view the job site to see the general construction in person. This helps us out in two ways. One, it engages students in having pride in their campus. Two, it expands the students’ knowledge on how construction works here at Central, which helps prepare them for their real-world experiences.”  

The Health Sciences building will become the capstone project for the university’s “Science Neighborhood” that includes Science Hall, Discovery Hall, and Samuelson Hall.

“It sits in a very historic part of campus,” noted CWU Academic Planning Officer Doug Ryder, the project architect. “The building pays homage to the adjacent buildings. When the architects came up with some of the design features, they wanted it to be modern but still fit in the context of a historic brick campus.”

The Health Sciences building is scheduled to be open in time for the beginning of CWU’s 2022 winter quarter.