Construction is underway on the new Washington State University visitor center designed by the design-build team, Olson Kundig Architects and Sellen Construction. Located on the west edge of the WSU campus in Pullman, Washington, the 4,277 square-foot visitor center will provide visitor information and orientation to WSU and the Palouse region, an overview of student culture and alumni history, and an introduction to university research activities. Groundbreaking for the visitor center began in early June, with 15-foot-tall concrete letters spelling out W-S-U raised into position late July.
Associate Vice President for Facilities Services, Olivia Yang noted, “The new WSU visitor center is intended to be the university’s front door and showcase WSU’s strengths and contributions in research, teaching, service and athletics. After a design-build competition, the design build team of Sellen/Olson Kundig was selected as providing the design which best captured the project’s aspiration, scope and budget.”
Alan Maskin, lead designer of the project and co-owner of Olson Kundig Architects noted, “Our team set out to make a modern portal to the WSU campus that engages the river, makes an artistic nod to Bryan Tower at the center of campus, and integrates various indoor and outdoor spaces that weave together to tell the story of WSU. We hope to create a new venue where the public can convene and engage with the campus
“The visitor center will be a new gateway to the campus,” said Dave Scalzo, senior project manager for Sellen Construction, “Our design-build team is excited and ready to make this vision a reality.” A glazed pavilion, the visitor center will be topped by an overhanging roof supported by the large concrete U on one end and a 40-foot-tall steel plate modern tower on the other. The tower, an homage to historic Bryan Tower, will emit a beacon of light into the night sky on special occasions.
Materials used for the building are steel, cast concrete, and CLT wood panels made from Pine Beetle Kill Wood, a relatively new material that resulted from research conducted in part by Washington State University. Exhibits throughout the facility – including an interactive donor wall in the great room – will highlight WSU’s achievements in global animal health, food and agriculture, and clean technologies. Interpretive exhibits will showcase the diverse talents and innovations fostered by Washington State University. The building is targeted to achieve LEED® Silver Certification.
Steven Rainville, Olson Kundig’s principal architect for the project and a WSU graduate states, “The visitor center will be the first brush with WSU spirit for many prospective and new students, and their parents. It will be a homecoming beacon for all of the alumni body. It will act as a visual icon for thousands of new memories to come and be an indelible part of being a Coug.”
The WSU Visitor Center will open this fall in time for Dad’s Weekend.
About Alan Maskin
Alan Maskin is a partner and principal at Olson Kundig Architects. For over two decades he has focused primarily on the design of cultural projects including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center, Zooraji Park in Busan, South Korea, and the Bezos Center for Innovation at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). His work has been published in a variety of national and international media including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Architectural Record and The Wall Street Journal.
Olson Kundig Architects is a Seattle-based architecture firm led by owners Jim Olson, Tom Kundig, Kirsten R. Murray, and Alan Maskin. The 105-person office specializes in a range of projects both nationally and internationally, including academic and civic projects; museums and exhibit design; cultural centers; new and renovated residences, particularly for art collectors; mixed-use buildings; places of worship; urban design; and interior design. The firm is the recipient of the 2009 Architecture Firm Award, awarded by the American Institute of Architects.
About Sellen Construction Company
Sellen Construction Company is the largest locally owned commercial construction firm in the Pacific Northwest. Since its founding by John Sellen in 1944, Sellen has been a part of the phenomenal growth of this region.” Our success is based on one simple philosophy – we help our customers achieve their goals.” – Sellen.
About Washington State University
Founded in Pullman, Wash., in 1890 in as the state’s land-grant research college, Washington State University today has an instructional faculty of more than 2,200 and nearly 28,000 students enrolled on four campuses statewide and engaged in distance degree programs. WSU features a strong and varied academic program that includes some 300 fields of study, 150 separate majors and a wide variety of minors, options and certificate programs. The university’s commitment to providing the highest quality of education in a caring academic community is reflected in its motto, “World Class. Face-to-Face.”Location: Washington , USA
Architect: Olson Kundig Architects
General Contractor: Sellen Construction
Structural and Civil Engineer: KPFF
Mechanical, Electrical, and Lighting: WSP Flack + Kurtz
Landscape Architect: Berger Partnership