CWU News

Samuelson Hall Grand Opening on October 19

After being shuttered for more than a decade, the $64.5 million Samuelson Hall is open for business.

With funding from the 2015 state legislature, demolition of the old Samuelson began in May 2016. The 57,750 square-foot south wing was demolished and replaced with new construction, while the 49,250-foot north wing underwent a major reconstruction.

An opening ceremony will be held at 3:00 p.m. on October 19. Public tours of the building will be held from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m., following the ceremony.

“The new Samuelson Hall is clear demonstration of Central Washington University’s continuing commitment to provide the best and most cutting edge educational facilities to our students,” said CWU President James L. Gaudino. “The building is a showcase for our highest-demand STEM programs and provides an amazing teaching, learning and research facility for our students and faculty.”

The renovated Samuelson building is an integrated computer science technology center housing the departments of Computer Science, Sociology, Mathematics, and Information Technology and Administrative Management (ITAM).

The new structure also contains the office of Multimodal Learning, which is integral to CWU’s digital class offerings and other distance education options, and the campus data center. Other building features include state-of-the-art classrooms and lecture halls, a Turing supercomputer, a new robotics laboratory, a new cyberwarfare laboratory, and a digital sandbox for active learning.

The new Samuelson was built with the highest standards of energy efficiency according to LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Washington state requires public buildings to meet a minimum silver LEED certification; CWU is hoping that Samuelson will achieve LEED gold.

“The building is very energy efficient with the use of LED lights, automatic lighting controls, and heat recovery systems,” said Doug Ryder, University Facilities planning officer and Samuelson project director. “The interior materials and finishes were selected to be durable and environmentally friendly, such as bamboo flooring, low VOC paint, and polished concrete floors.

A Building in Suspended Animation
Vacated since 2006, the old Samuelson Union Building was a patchwork of remodeling and additions that were constructed between 1928 and 1967.

“It was like an archeological dig, stripping away the various ‘strata’ of old Samuelson,” Ryder commented. “Like seeing a history of construction methods and materials throughout the past 80 years.”

In 1926, when CWU’s student body numbered in the hundreds, the College Union Building provided a central place for student to gather and socialize. The $42,000 structure housed a gymnasium, and served as the home of student government. Later the gym was converted to a ballroom, where students danced to swing bands in the 50s, and rocked out to pop bands in the 60s. From 1967 to 2006, it housed student clubs, the Student Union and Recreation Center and later, the college bookstore.

As with all new buildings, Samuelson received artwork funded through the state of Washington’s Art in Public Places program. The program, created in 1974, allocates a percentage of the building's construction costs for art to be installed on the site of a publicly funded structure.

Sculptor Ilan Averbuch created a massive work that frames the eastern entrance of Samuelson. “Mammoth” is a large-scale installation of a woolly mammoth tusk that appears to go under the sidewalk. It alludes to the mammoth fragment in the collection of the university, and according to the artist, “creates a visual metaphor for the scientific advancements made from that discovery [and] evokes a spiritual and intellectual search into the past to understand who we are and our place in the universe.” The artwork was installed in July.

Averbuch is a sculptor who grew up in Israel, and attended university in England and the United States. His artworks are mainly large-scale outdoor sculptures, made from raw materials such as stone and wood, as well as metals and glass. In his own words, his art “involves the recycling of images and materials, moving from one time span to another.”

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,