Centralia College shows plans for $40M commons

The Chronicle (Centralia)October 20, 2013 

Centralia College is rolling out plans for a new $40 million building.

The 70,000-square-foot TransAlta Commons will be constructed on the corner of Washington Avenue and Pear Street in Centralia, according to Steve Ward, the college’s vice president of finance and administration.

The college hosted a meeting Wednesday to take input from more than 50 attendees on the building’s floor plan before moving forward with the design process.

“We’re very, very close on this project,” Ward said, noting the design process is expected to be underway within four months.

The college first forwarded a proposal for the multipurpose building to the governor in 2007. Last year, then-Gov. Chris Gregoire’s outgoing capital budget included $37 million in state money over four years for the project. Additionally, the college has raised $3 million through capital campaigns.

The plan is for the new commons to house many of the functions currently in the student center.

One of the building’s architects, Andy Rovelstad of Rovelstad Architecture, led those at the meeting through a computerized, three-dimensional tour of the proposed facility. He said its architecture was influenced by the increasing need for technology in education.

The proposed facility features a planetarium, a multipurpose room, a bookstore, food services, a student-run cafe, offices for student government and programs, the multicultural center, a welcome desk, conference rooms, an area with a raised stage, projection capabilities, lounge space and seating areas on the first floor.

“If you can nourish community inside your building, that’s my thing,” Rovelstad said. “Our options are infinite.”

Rovelstad said the planetarium will be the focus of the building and can double as lecture or art space. “A planetarium has an amazing energy,” he said.

Student services, such as financial aid, counseling, admissions and the cashier, would be on the second floor of the proposed facility.

The third floor would include instructional spaces with moveable options designed for changing needs and technology. The third floor also is expected to have a communications center, office areas, lounge space, study nooks and an amphitheater.

The stairs will act as the statement piece for the building, Rovelstad said, featuring windows to look out over campus, similar to those in the Science Building.

After completing the design, Ward said, he expects to open bidding for the building in early 2015 and to break ground that summer. The Commons could open in January 2017.

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