$12.75 million Purce Hall opens at The Evergreen State College

Take a look at the newly remodeled and expanded $12.75 million Purce Hall at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. Video by Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian
Up Next
Take a look at the newly remodeled and expanded $12.75 million Purce Hall at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. Video by Lisa Pemberton, The Olympian


$12.75 million converts Evergreen’s lecture building into Purce Hall

November 05, 2016 07:00 AM

After a yearlong $12.75 million expansion and remodeling project, The Evergreen State College’s 1971 concrete lecture hall building is about to get a new identity.

The 24,463-square-foot building will be formally named in honor of retired college president Thomas “Les” Purce during a public dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Interim provost Ken Tabbutt said the building has been remodeled to meet the Olympia college’s multidisciplinary, team-taught and collaborative approach to learning.

“In here, the classrooms are set up so that students can work interactively and do workshops and collaborate,” he said during a tour of the building. “It’s a much more functional space.”

Help us deliver journalism that makes a difference in our community.

Our journalism takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work to produce. If you read and enjoy our journalism, please consider subscribing today.

The building was designed by ZGF Architects, a Portland-based firm with a Seattle office. Purce Hall’s lead contractor was Absher Construction Co. of Puyallup.

Faculty member Andrew Buchman said most of the rooms now have a beautiful view.

“I love the new building, it brings the outside in,” said Buchman, who teaches music. “Indoors, there’s this feeling of spaciousness. Room for your ideas to kind of brew and assemble.”

Among the building’s other features:

It was built green

Much of the wood, including some classic 1970s slat paneling that decorated Lecture Hall 1, and other materials were preserved from the original building and incorporated into the remodel. About three-quarters of the concrete exterior was kept, too, according to college spokesman Todd Sprague.

Crews used high quality insulation and installed a mechanical system that is meant to maximize energy efficiency, said construction project coordinator Tim Byrne. The building uses LED lights, and makes the most of natural light with skylights and extra-large windows.

Wooden beams that can be seen throughout the building were approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, which means they were sustainably harvested, Sprague said.

“It is solar-ready,” Byrne added, noting thatsolar collection panels could be installed in the future, but won’t be at this time because of the cost.

The college is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification for the project.

It’s wired

The building features Wi-Fi, and each classroom and lecture hall is wired with cameras and projection and audio systems.

Most of the furniture has built-in USB and standard outlets for laptops and other devices.

In true Evergreen fashion, the building also features old-school chalkboards that are preferred by most faculty members over whiteboards and high-tech smartboards, Tabbutt said.

It’s a place to study

Rosemary Davies said her favorite area of the building is its rotunda, which features couches, chairs, benches, pillows and coffee bar-style tables and stools.

“It has, like, a lot of nooks and crannies, if you’re looking for a good place to study,” said Davies, 22, a junior studying computer science. “I really like this building.”

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton

If you go

A public dedication ceremony for Purce Hall will be from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at The Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia.