Core Design Team
MARK CORK, AIA LEED AP: DESIGN PRINCIPAL
BETH BRETT, AIA LEED AP: PROJECT MANAGER
BRAD IEST, AIA: PROJECT DESIGNER
CARISSA BARRY, AIA LEED AP BD+C: PROJECT ARCHITECT
JOHN PAANANEN, IIDA: INTERIOR DESIGNER
HENRY LENNON, AIA: ARCHITECTURAL STAFF
ALLIE TUREK, AIA: ARCHITECTURAL STAFF
KURT HAAPALA, FAIA LEED AP: PROGRAMMING PRINCIPAL AND HOUSING SPECIALIST
SARAH PAYTON, AIA, SEED AP, ARCHITECTURAL STAFF
DESIGN-BUILDER/GENERAL CONTRACTOR: LYDIG CONSTRUCTION
CIVIL ENGINEER: COFFMAN ENGINEERS
PLUMBING/MECHANICAL/FIRE SPRINKLER: BLYTHE MECHANICAL
ELECTRICAL ENGINEER: VECA ELECTRIC AND TECHNOLOGIES
UNIVERSAL DESIGN: STUDIO PACIFICA
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: 2INK STUDIO
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: COUGHLIN PORTER LUNDEEN
PLUMBING/MECHANICAL: ARRIS CONSULTING
ELECTRICAL DESIGNER: SAMATA CONSULTING
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION: DISTINCTIVE VOICES CONSULTING
PHOTOGRAPHER: BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER
ENVELOPE CONSULTANT: RDH BUILDING SCIENCE
ACOUSTICS: A3 ACOUSTICS
LEED COORDINATION: DESIGN BALANCE
GRAPHIC DESIGN: BRYAN POTTER DESIGN
Western Washington University’s commitment to center accessibility, sustainability, equity, diversity, and inclusion in their campus developments resulted in Alma Clark Glass Hall – an inclusive residential community where all abilities and identities are honored and welcomed.
HISTORY MATTERS: ALMA CLARK GLASS
Alma Clark Glass, the first Black woman to attend Western Washington University (WWU) in 1906, was a person of determination, insight, and courage. Naming the building in her honor, Alma Clark Glass Hall focuses on themes of equity, inclusion, and access for all students. This new 400-bed, 117,340 SF inclusive residential hall is built on the principles that student success is supported by diversity and inclusion, living-learning integration, affordability, access, choice, and health and safety.
STUDENT OUTREACH AND ADVOCACY
Outreach to students, administration, and faculty reinforced the desire to focus on equity and inclusion to support WWU’s diverse student population. Student listening sessions focused on themes of Design Justice, equity, inclusion, and access as well as safety, security, and environmental stewardship. Led by BIPOC engagement specialists and the design team, a central theme of inclusion of students of color, particularly Black students, emerged as a key design element. From these activities, the creation of WWU’s first Black Affinity Housing Community found its home in Alma Clark Glass Hall, providing the opportunity for Black students to live together in a safe and welcome environment. Katana Sol, a WWU industrial design student and artist, was awarded the honor of designing “…a mural that encompasses Black joy in a space created for our community on campus.” Her colorful and meaningful artwork flanks the “Shared Journey” and common spaces, inspiring students to make connections, break bread, worship, live, and learn together.
A SHARED JOURNEY
WWU’s campus is surrounded by beautiful stands of Douglas Fir trees and sweeping vistas of Bellingham Bay. Between classroom buildings and residence halls, students traverse forest pathways with elevation changes nearing 100 vertical feet. While this may sound idyllic to some, if you have mobility differences, the existing accessible routes are time-consuming, utilizing multiple elevators and buildings to navigate elevation changes. This is not an equitable environment for all students.
Borne from the student listening sessions surrounding equity, the design solution solves topographic barriers by providing an accessible pathway through the building and site, dubbed the “Shared Journey,” down an 80-foot hillside. This solution not only solves for inclusivity and accessibility, but the spirit of an equitable Shared Journey for every student – every day.
The building’s social, academic, and residential amenities create a framework for students to make planned and unplanned connections. Unobstructed, transparent common spaces support students who are deaf or hard of hearing, while low-sloped walkways with textured transitions support students using mobility devices and/or students who are blind or experience low vision. And with rising concern over mental health, a reflection space is provided as a quiet refuge for residents.
The multi-dimensional program delivers a live-learn environment supported by both recreational and academic spaces. A diverse collection of unit types, including studios, semi-private suites, full suites, and traditional units allow for flexibility of choice and affordability.
WWU chose this residential hall as their first ever Progressive Design-Build project. This decision was made for multiple reasons, including that it brought the entire team together early in the process; it allowed for full team interactions before substantial, prescriptive specifications were identified for maximum innovation to better achieve goals and objectives; and the process allowed for a higher participation of MWBE/Disadvantaged Businesses.
Progressive Design-Build delivery also provided an integrated process that addressed two significant challenges: cost containment and site access. The initial site selection optimized campus planning goals from site utilization, proximity to the campus core, and addressed the needs of first-year students’ access to dining and other residential services. The challenge of the site was a steep hillside with minimal construction access for materials and normal construction processes.
Early in the design process, the team hosted a Target Value Design workshop bringing all design and construction disciplines alongside University stakeholders to establish budget criteria for the entire project scope. This allowed early cost modeling and cost management to drive how and where the University would invest in superstructure, building systems, program areas, and material finishes.
Understanding the limitation of the constrained site, the team focused on modular systems which allowed for expedited construction of the superstructure with minimal impact to neighbors, public streets, and adjacent residences.
BENEFITS OF MASS TIMBER
Alma Clark Glass Hall is the first building on campus to incorporate a mass timber frame with an exposed Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) floor system. While the use of wood in the Pacific Northwest has a long history, recent research is demonstrating that mass timber’s capacity to sequester large amounts of carbon is a potent strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with building construction. Mass timber also allowed efficient ground and podium level construction, a panelized wall system at the upper levels, and it serves as the building’s seismic diaphragm. The main student lounge, community kitchen, and multi-purpose areas along the “Shared Journey” boasts tall timber posts and beams. This design solution was inspired by a walk through the forest – a calming, biophilic experience of being amongst native Douglas Fir trees.
Commitment to a sustainable future is a hallmark of WWU. Alma Clark Glass Hall has been certified LEED Gold, achieving two noteworthy categories: Energy and Atmosphere and Indoor Environmental Quality. With a tight envelope and triplepane glazing, the project aimed to reduce demand while utilizing heat recovery units for efficiency. Incorporating CLT also held a significant advantage. Not only did the floor assembly sequester carbon, but it also provided a 60-minute fire-rated assembly and an STC-56 rating (far above code minimum) for acoustic separation of residential sleeping rooms located above lively and loud social spaces such as the student lounges and the community kitchen.