A building of more than 70,000 square feet will soon replace Longshoremen’s Hall and house a YMCA as well as multiple spaces dedicated to students, such as lounges, multi-purpose rooms, study areas, and student organization office space. A priority of student leaders for years, the facility is said to meet all of the requirements of a student center due to an accelerated building process and a partnership with the YMCA.
A raised Student Activities Fee from $159 to $180 will be included in tuition to support the new building, but Mike Wark, Director of External Relations, said it is a small price to pay for the benefits it will have for students. “For less than they would pay [for a YMCA membership], students get to use the facility which is also a student center, as well as the other Y’s in Pierce County. Very little of the fee is actually going towards the fitness programs,” Wark said.
The expansive project is unique to others on campus according to Lane McKittrick, Director of Campus Planning and Real Estate. Utilizing a design-build process, feedback and input from students was incorporated into a document outlining the prioritized needs of the facility, and sent out to prospective companies. More detailed communication was had with three of these companies, and one was chosen over the summer to construct the building.
McKittrick said that the campus “chose design-build because we knew we only had 20 million dollars, because we knew students didn’t want to pay more than $180 a quarter. This is different because we said, ‘here’s the program we want and we only have 20 million.’ In a normal process, the [building developers] would say, ‘it’s going to cost this much,’ and then we would choose the lowest bidder. In this case, we were able to choose and say that we wanted as much program as possible for our budget and these are our requirements.”
This is part of a vision put forth in the 2008-09 school year by ASUWT and the Services and Activities Fee Committee, where a study regarding the long term progress on campus stated that a student union was the “primary facility need of students.” When the opportunity to construct the building and lease it to the YMCA came about, the chance to further merge UW Tacoma campus with its surrounding community emerged.
The accelerated pace of the project is in the interest of the students, who have been at the center of the idea for years, said Ed Mirecki of Student Affairs. “The number one priority is that students wanted a space on campus to get together and actually be in a space with other students. [They] have continuously voiced that interest in such a space,” Not wanting the YMCA to detract from the fact that the included student center is a major reason for the partnership, he said, “The heart of this project really is about the student center and the need to have that space for student organizations and programming.”
In the coming months, the destruction of Longshoremen’s Hall will begin.
“Hopefully before end of the fall, you’ll see construction starting,” said Mirecki. “I don’t mean to sound cheesy, but we have been really excited that this really is kind of a symbol of the future for where UW Tacoma is going, and I’m excited for students to be the central part of that.”
The YMCA has a projected opening of January 2015.