Frequently Asked Questions
PW698 Multicultural Center

Why was PW698 Multicultural Center initiated?Return to Top

  • To increase visibility and accessibility for underrepresented students
  • To make a physical statement of value and philosophy for diversity and inclusivity
  • To increase connectivity and activated space on street level and above
  • To increase multicultural education resource space for campus

A key element of such a visible, accessible space is to offer programs and services that encourage the broader university community to increase its knowledge of ethnic identity and increase its appreciation of multiple cultures.

What is the project scope?Return to Top

  • Demolition of Bookstore roof and mezzanine. Extend VU Level 7 from KUGS over the main VU entry on Level 6 and over the Bookstore.
  • New and expanded home for the Ethnic Student Center (approximately five times the existing size)
  • New offices for three AS Students Resource and Outreach Programs (ROP) that will be adjacent to the Resource Library shared with the ESC:
    • Womxn’s Identity Resource Center
    • Queer Resource Center
    • Disability Outreach Center
  • Home for Multicultural Services, university administrative staff who will support students, faculty and staff and will collaborate with and augment services provided by the ESC and ROP programs.
  • Re-orientation of the Bookstore with new main entry off the expanded VU lobby. Work performed in the Bookstore will be limited to providing required structure for the Level 7 Addition and to convert operations to two levels instead of three. The Viking Union Multipurpose Room (VU MPR) will have an expanded reception area with its main entry in the expanded VU lobby.
  • Minor modifications to KUGS entry and work areas to accommodate the additional functions on Level 7. (KUGS is Western’s radio station staffed by volunteer students.)

How are students involved?Return to Top

  • Student leadership and involvement has supported and directed the Ethnic Student Center (ESC) from its inception in 1991 until today. Current efforts to create the Multicultural Center would not have been possible without those efforts. In addition, students collaborated and advocated with university colleagues in Enrollment and Student Services (ESS), the Dean of Students (DOS), the Viking Union (VU), and partnered with multiple faculty across campus (especially through the President’s Taskforce on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity). 
  • Spring/Fall 2014 – Students (including AS leaders and students from the ESC) began working with VU and ESS colleagues to develop plans for enhancing the current ESC. AS provided monetary support for initial planning (Spring 2014). 
  • Spring/Fall 2015 – VU and ESS committed $1.5 million to relocate and renovate space in the VU to enhance the ESC. Students worked with architects and determined multiple options for relocating the ESC in the VU and enhancing the presence and space.
  • Fall 2015 – ESC students (through a letter to multiple staff and administration) requested an increased commitment, beyond relocation in the VU, to expand space and provide a new and more robust home for the ESC and the development of a more robust Multicultural Center.
  • Fall 2015/Winter 2016 – Students partnered with the President’s Taskforce for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity to develop a recommendation to support a more comprehensive Multicultural Center. 
  • Winter/Spring 2016 – AS student leadership developed a referendum for the Associated Students of WWU to assess a fee of up to $30 per student per quarter to fund a Multicultural Center that would:
    • “Create new space and renovate existing spaces that would not only increase the size of the Ethnic Student Center by over five times, but would create a highly visible and accessible presence from the main Viking Union Plaza level. Other funding sources would partner to create this space to support our growing diverse population and engage the campus to better understand other cultures.”
    • Fee passed in a student-wide vote with 63% of students voting YES.
  • Fall 2016 – Opsis Architecture hired to complete the Multicultural Center project. The ESC Executive Committee was formed to help direct its design. Decision made to locate the new Center over the AS Bookstore and link across to the current 7th floor of the VU over Vendors Row Plaza area.
  • Winter 2017 through Fall 2017 - Opsis Architecture works with the VU, ESC Steering Committee,  students from across the AS programs (including the Disability Outreach Center, Queer Resource Center, Womxn’s Identity Center), and ESS administration to design the new Multicultural Center space.

What is the project budget?Return to Top

The total project budget is approximately $20 million. In the Spring of 2016, students voted in favor of a new fee to expand the Ethnic Student Center and Multicultural Services space at the Viking Union/Bookstore Complex. The fee is $30 per quarter (for students taking six or more credits) and will be pledged to bond debt, funding a portion of the construction, maintenance, and facility operations of the new space. The Associated Students contributed some reserve funds to the project as well.

The project’s total funding is a partnership, so in addition to the above student fee and reserves (69.2%), additional project funding sources include institutional funds (23.3%) and savings achieved by refunding some existing Viking Union bonds (7.5%).

What firms are on the design/construction team?Return to Top

Design Team:

  • Opsis Architecture, Seattle, WA
  • RMC Architects, Bellingham, WA
  • Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Seattle, WA, Structural Engineers
  • WSP Group, Seattle, WA, Mechanical Engineers
  • K Engineers, Inc., Lynden, WA, Electrical Engineers
  • Murase Associates, Seattle, WA, Landscape Architects
  • Wilson Engineering, Bellingham, WA, Civil Engineers

GCCM (General Contractor Construction Manager):

  • Dawson Construction, Bellingham, WA

When does construction start? End?Return to Top

  • Schematic design is complete; Design development phase occurring now.
  • Construction drawings complete January 2018.
  • Construction begins December 2017 to prepare the VU MPR for the Bookstore relocation.
  • Scheduled completion June 2019.

What kind of construction impacts are expected?Return to Top

Construction will occur in two phases. In February 2018, construction site fencing will be installed around the Bookstore building and a mobile tower crane will be erected. Pedestrian access to the main VU entry will be maintained to the east (from High St) and south (from Virginia Wright/PAC plaza). Phase 2 will begin in June 2018 with the closure of the access from the east (High Street). This path will remain closed until construction completion. During the 2018-19 school year, access to the VU will be restricted to a narrow path from the PAC plaza. The noisiest work will occur toward the beginning of each phase during the demolition periods.

Will current occupants in the VU (eateries, AS club offices, US Post Office, etc.) remain open during construction? Return to Top

All services in the VU will remain open during construction, except the gallery. The gallery programming during construction is to be determined. Programs in the current Student Life suite on Level 5 will be relocated during a portion of construction.

What will happen to the Bookstore during construction?Return to Top

The Bookstore will operate in the VU Multipurpose Room (MPR) during the construction period with access through the doors off High Street.

Is the VU Multipurpose Room (MPR) going to be available for rental or use by the campus during construction?Return to Top

The MPR will be unavailable for rent during the entire course of construction, beginning  December 2017 – June 2019.

What will happen to Vendor’s Row? Will it be closed during construction?Return to Top

Vendors’ Row will move to its new location under the MPR canopy, in front of the temporary Bookstore, by January 2018 and will remain in operation during construction.

What will happen to KUGS during construction?Return to Top

KUGS will remain on the air throughout construction. Dawson Construction will work with KUGS so that the radio programming can make adjustments during the noisiest construction activities. Some light renovation activities to the KUGS suite will require limited access from the east stairwell and elevator later in the construction period.

Is sustainability being considered and in what ways?Return to Top

Sustainability has been a driving principle for the Multicultural Services project from the beginning based on clear direction and emphasis from the students. The project is pursuing LEED v4 Silver certification, the first project on campus to pursue the new more robust v4 requirements. Areas of particular emphasis include an integration of social and environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, daylighting and improved indoor air quality.

  • For the social emphasis, an interpretive planner, working closely with the design team, has guided the listening and integration of diverse perspectives to create an environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all. This will include working with local Native American communities for recognition in the building. Graphics and the resource library will share these messages with building occupants and visitors. Featured local and salvaged materials will illustrate the direct connection to place. The construction team is pursuing diverse and emerging subcontractors for inclusion on the team.
  • Energy modeling has guided the design team and University to mechanical systems that provide superior performance. Metering will track and constantly monitor energy consumption.
  • Additionally, daylight modeling is informing the refinement of the exterior and how quality daylight can be provided in a large majority of all spaces. A large exterior sunscreen on the south façade will respond to site specific conditions for optimized interior daylight and minimized summer heat gain.
  • Indoor air quality is being elevated by means of manually operated windows throughout together with direct outside air systems and carefully selected low emitting materials.      

Are there any special design features?Return to Top

The project will give prominent visibility to the ESC and improve the identity and connectively of the entire VU. Located on top of the existing campus bookstore, the building expansion bridges over to the existing Level 7 of the VU and creates a new lobby to unify the Union, MPR, and Bookstore. Vendor’s Row will be permanently located under the existing VU MPR canopy on High Street.
The sunscreen facing the Performing Arts Plaza will provide a clear identity for the building while also carefully modulating daylight.

Where can I find additional information?Return to Top

  • The Office of Facilities Development and Capital Budget project website (provide link)
  • Construction notices posted on informational kiosks located in the VU
  • Construction notices posted on Western Today and sent via email to affected building occupants
  • “Town halls”/presentations held periodically to keep campus community informed on project progress
  • Construction web cams on west side of Wilson Library and north side of Performing Arts Center

Project ContactsReturn to Top

Page Updated 10.04.2017
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