The UWT grocery store is being updated with a new location, services and hours.
The Reimagining TPS Ground project is moving the iconic West Coast Grocery store, UWT’s tiny food oasis on campus, to a larger, more energy-efficient location. The new space will be in the former Global Innovation and Design Lab space, located on the ground floor of the Tacoma Paper & Stationery (TPS) building. With updated plumbing, extra storage and nearly double the square footage for operations, the new grocery store is set to offer hot and cold food options, snacks and drinks as well as indoor and outdoor seating for students to utilize.
Joe Lawless, UWT Chief Strategy Officer in the Chancellor’s Office, describes the project as the first phase to building more community-centered spaces on campus where students can gain access to improved facilities, while also having comfortable places to build community in.
In discussing the difficulties of being a commuter campus and how that impacts community building efforts for students, Lawless explained this project is a direct response to years of UWT students requesting more spaces to study, relax, enjoy and utilize during day and evening class times.
“A complaint of students on our campus, for years, has been there’s no community. There’s no place to just hang out… Especially as a commuter campus, you know, you come to class, maybe you’ve got an 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. class, and then maybe you don’t have class again until one. There’s no place to be and just hang out,” Lawless said.
In response to student concerns around the use of the space, Lawless and the design hosted two in-person planning sessions in April. Attendees voiced ideas and concerns on the new proposed designs, added to strategic plan maps, and helped facilitate conversation around the use of the space. Lawless said student turnout for both events was in large numbers, and the feedback received by students and event participants greatly impacted the planning process for the Reimagining TPS Ground project.
Currently, the project is in the first phase of collecting student feedback and opinions to inform design and functionality decisions. An online survey has been posted for all UWT students, staff and faculty to share their ideas, concerns and design choices for the new space. The online form is available to receive responses until May 19.
In the survey, students have options to give their input on food choices, furniture design, usage of space and other important topics for planning. The survey also asks students to share their ideas on what to call the new space. Once the survey closes, McGranahan Architects, a local Tacoma design firm, will sort through the feedback and incorporate student ideas and input into the final design process.
“We really really really want (students’) input. As part of the design process, the architects and the designers that are working on it need as much student input as possible… This is being done for students. Faculty and staff will benefit, they’ll come hang out here too, but this is being done for students,” Lawless said.
With construction set to begin in Autumn 2023, the new grocery store is projected to open and be available for student use by the beginning of Winter 2024. Once moved to the upgraded location, the current West Coast Grocery space will be converted into a new on-campus student use space that is still in the planning process.
In an effort to push the project forward, The UWT Reimagining TPS Ground project has created four goals for the renovation:
Goal #1 – Transform TPS Ground Floor into a vibrant, central hub for dining and gathering — a campus “living room” — incorporating furniture solutions that create spaces catering to different needs while allowing maximum seating and flexibility.
Goal #2 – Provide a new home for the Convenience Store (currently located in West Coast Grocery) in the former GID Lab space. This space will allow the store to nearly double in size, allowing a more comprehensive selection of grab-and-go food and beverage offerings. The modern, super energy-efficient infrastructure of the TPS building will also mean significant annual energy savings from store operations.
Goal #3 – Create a space for students to hang out during the day and into the evenings in a safe, accessible environment.
Goal #4 – Allow a multi-functional space that can adapt to a variety of uses.
These goals will inform the design process, assist in mapping out logistics for planning and focus on the student experience, creating a brand new, student-centered space that is both functional and comfortable for UWT students to spend time in.
To learn more about the project, and for the feedback survey link, visit the project webpage at:
For more information on the project, you can also email Elizabeth Hyun, Project Manager, at