Demolition begins on UW Tacoma's Joy Building

The last remaining vacant building on the Pacific Avenue side of the University of Washington Tacoma campus is set to receive a total makeover, completing the four-block-wide “face” of the campus. Renovation on the historic Russell T. Joy Building, which had fallen into disuse, will create much-needed faculty offices and classrooms for a growing student body. The university expects an estimated 3,000 enrolled students this academic year.

UW Tacoma Chancellor Pat Spakes made remarks in a brief event yesterday marking the beginning of the project.

“This fall, over 3,000 students will study on this campus, and we are short on space,” she said. “We need more classrooms, and we need more faculty and staff offices. We need a permanent home for our largest academic unit, the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences program. Renovation of the Joy Building will accomplish all of that.”

Work begins now with demolition of some parts of the site in preparation for the later construction that will commence this fall. The university will try to salvage and repurpose usable materials, such as old-growth fir beams, as was done in previous campus renovations. In particular, the building’s metal fire doors and old elevators may become points of interest within the structure.

A groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction is planned for Oct. 6 at 3:00 p.m. in Philip Hall on the UW Tacoma campus.

The Joy Building renovation is part of a $34 million capital construction package from the Washington State Legislature, intended to stimulate the economy by providing construction jobs. This support also includes funding for the addition and renovation of three labs in the Science Building — already under way — and building infrastructure to support future campus construction up the hill.

UW Tacoma moved into the historic Warehouse District campus in 1997. Approximately one-third of the planned 46-acre campus will be complete when the Joy Building is opened in spring 2011. The campus design has received much recognition for creative preservation and rehabilitation of the century-old buildings along Pacific Avenue, including a National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award and the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Urban Design.

Russell T. Joy came to Tacoma in 1888 and worked as a clerk for the Tacoma Land Company. Soon after, he went into business as a builder and real estate developer. In 1892, he commissioned three buildings to be constructed in the Warehouse District, including the one that bears his name. The architects were Pickles and Sutton, a firm that designed many distinguished buildings in Tacoma, including the National Bank of Tacoma.

Since it was constructed in 1892, Mr. Joy’s namesake has been home to a wide variety of industry, including a wholesale grocery, a paper company, a stove manufacturing business, a candy company, a glove maker, and a number of automobile-related businesses, including a Firestone Tire store and both Studebaker and Oldsmobile distributors.

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For earlier Index coverage of the Joy Building renovation, click on the following links:

1. State budget troubles could tweak UWT Joy Building renovation (07/24/09) —

2. A new chapter for historic downtown building (03/03/09) — and

3. Vote clears way for UWT Joy Building early-phase renovations (02/27/09) —

4. Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will hear UWT Joy Building renovation plans (02/20/09) —

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