Harned Center Groundbreaking: A vibrant future for Tacoma's healthcare students

Tacoma Community College officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to celebrate the beginning of major construction of the Harned Center for Health Careers.

Two years ago, the college received the largest single gift in its 45-year history from Tacoma resident H.C. “Joe” Harned to support health careers training. Harned, who attended the ceremony, has been a supporter of higher education for many years at area colleges and universities and in his hometown of Ursina, Penn. He has funded scholarships at Tacoma Community College for nearly a decade. The college’s board of trustees voted to name the new center in honor of Harned.

When completed in 2014, the Harned Center for Health Careers will house all health care training, and the building design will aim to simulate the environment of a health care facility, allowing students to learn in a setting based on the hospitals or clinics they will work in once they graduate.

According to Tacoma Community College officials, the demand for trained health care workers has been increasing at a steady rate in Tacoma and the surrounding communities. There is a shortage of trained health care workers, significant need is projected for the next decade, and current facilities have outlived their design life and have become cramped, inadequate, and out of date, according to college officials. Every year, Tacoma Community College turns away students due to lack of space and insufficient training facilities and equipment. The new center will have state-of-the-art equipment, significantly increased teaching and learning space, and allow more students to obtain the training they need to further their careers.

The Harned Center for Health Careers is funded through a capital allocation from the state legislature. Medical simulation equipment is funded through a private gift from Harned.

The new 69,715-gross-square-foot center is being built on the south end of campus, north of the Pamela Transue Center for Science and Engineering. One major entrance will face Mildred Street and another major entrance will face the heart of the campus’s central plaza.

The early site work for the building began in July. The work currently underway includes the infrastructure for water, sewer, storm water management, fire protection, power, data/communications, and the ground source heating and cooling wells. Construction of the building itself should begin toward the end of October or in early November.

When completed, the three-story building will include 11 general classrooms, three computer labs, and instructional spaces for respiratory therapy, nursing, and health information management. A lower level will house instructional space for diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical care, and radiologic sciences.

The building will also boast a variety of unique features, including energy efficiency measures such as a large atrium space in the middle of the building with abundant natural lighting and highly energy efficient lighting, heating, plumbing, control, and mechanical systems; heating and cooling systems that use ground source (geo-thermal) technology; two rooftop gardens that students and staff can access to interact with others, study, or reflect quietly; and many “third space” (outside of the classroom) interactive learning spaces for quiet study, reflection, or meeting with one or two others to study or dialogue.

Construction of the LEED-Gold building is expected to last 18 to 20 months.

The groundbreaking ceremony Thursday was held on Harned’s 95th birthday.