Core Design Team

Firm: McGranahan Architects


Obrien & Company
The Robinson Company
Washington State Department of Enterprise Services
Forma Construction
Hultz BHU Engineers, Inc
Cascade Design Collaborative
SSA Acoustics
Health & Associates, Inc. Transportation and Civil Engineering

Project Narrative

The Advanced Technology Center (ATC) focuses on broadcast technologies and STEM-oriented programs. A primary project objective was to address the specific needs of the community and introduce STEM-oriented programs to students pursuing vocational and higher education goals as well as life-long learning through an array of strategies, particularly with women and minority students who have been historically underrepresented in STEM-oriented industries. The ATC straddles the borders of the Central Tacoma and Hilltop neighborhoods. In the Hilltop community, 60% of the population are people of color and 32% live below the poverty line. This project is envisioned as a community hub for local economic development, social engagement, cultural vitality, and technological advancement.

Unique learning arrangements and community are created by co-locating collaborative and instructional spaces together with a porous and accessible college environment. Multiple modes and styles of teaching/learning are blended to provide different capabilities for cross teaching and greater educational effectiveness.

Integrated social learning spaces create a more cohesive array of modes to address different learning styles and build community. The building also uses technology and infrastructure as learning tools. The ATC showcases the MDF room as a transparent two-story “Server Tower” and immersive instructional space. The technology is prominently seen by everyone and used as a learning tool by many of the academic programs.
Central to the main lobby, the “U Tube Cube” presents an interactive overlay to the utility core. The surface integrates multiple touch-screens that display a dynamic array of student-created digital media projects, daily events, activities, and building directory information. The screens are used spontaneously by individual students as well as strategically by classes to present digital work.

The green “Broadcast Box” Studio provides an iconic architectural feature along a busy arterial and anchors interior flexible space for the Digital Media Technology program activities, college gatherings, and community events. It provides a technological beacon that promotes industry partnerships and STEM careers.

This LEED Gold certified project incorporates multiple sustainable features including a ground coupled water source that supplies the HVAC system and a heat recovery system that extracts the significant heat energy expended by the server tower to heat domestic water. Modular-built faculty offices, S.I.P. panels and prefabricated plumbing systems incorporated in the design conserve resources, optimize energy use, and embodied energies. An interactive Energy Dashboard touch screen educates students on how the building is performing over time.
Formally, the accentuation of identifiable building elements symbolize the craft and design methodologies of computer and broadcast assemblies. Concrete was chosen to reflect the brutalist architecture of the adjacent television studio and as a timeless framework to support flexible educational components that adapt over time as programs, market needs and technologies evolve.

Creating an accessible campus has established trust in the community. Personal networks and familiarity have formed an attractive environment for new students and industry partners. Within less than a year, campus enrollment has grown to 99% of capacity, the IT programs are full and the community received an integrated asset.