With gray skies blending into the gray concrete buildings at The Evergreen State College on Wednesday, the remodeled college activities building – with its wood and colored concrete tile exterior – stood out as a warmer, more inviting place.
Inside, a festive atmosphere permeated the three-story building, which has been redesigned and expanded with student ideas and, more important, student money.
Wednesday marked the grand reopening of what many call the campus living room, a place for students to gather, dine in a student-run cafe, browse in the bookstore, hang their artwork, put out a newspaper, fill the radio airwaves and seek student services.
Granted, the building still is a giant, concrete shell with lots of barren concrete interior walls and exposed utility lines running along the ceiling.
“I don’t like it,” Evergreen student Jake Anderson said. “It feels like an airport.”
Other students praised the project.
“I like the Flaming Eggplant Cafe,” said Alyssa McClure, adding that the student-run cafe used to be outside. “There’s more spaces and better use of the space in the remodeled building.”
The $20.5 million project was developed as space to serve student needs, incorporating environmentally friendly features that reflect the college’s “green” reputation.
The students voted in 2006 to tax themselves $5.75 per credit to pay about 70 percent of the cost of renovating the building. The planning committee formed to guide the project featured seven college officials and nine students, each with an equal vote.
“There’s nothing typical about this project,” said Daniel Murray, project architect representing the DLR Group of Seattle.
The project added about 15,000 square feet to the 85,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1972 and expanded to include a third floor in 1992.
The CAB is expected to qualify for gold certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council. Here are some features that should make it eligible for the second-highest LEED rating:
• Much of the renovation used recycled building materials, including recycled vinyl and rubber for flooring.
• About 95 percent of the structure was preserved, and 95 percent of the construction debris was recycled.
• Increased insulation, energy-efficient lighting and improvements to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems should reduce energy use in the expanded building by more than 48 percent.
• The building’s drought-resistant, native plant landscape will be irrigated by water collected from the rooftop and other paved surfaces and stored in a 30,000-gallon basement cistern.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 firstname.lastname@example.org