TCC celebrates capital projects groundbreaking

Editor’s Note: Dana Greenlee’s technology column, which normally runs Friday, will return next week.

Sunny skies on a crisp fall afternoon greeted school officials, politicians, students and others who turned out for a capital projects groundbreaking ceremony at Tacoma Community College’s main campus.

Those in attendance were celebrating four state-funded capital projects – totalling over $25 million – under way during the 2003-2005 biennium as part of the college’s facilities master plan.

The buildings – a new Information Technology Center, a new Classroom/Administration Building, a new Science Building and renovation of Building 7 – are intended to better support teaching technology, accommodate a growing student population and begin to replace aging structures.

School officials were very excited about the new projects and what they mean for the school.

“It has been nearly 20 years since we’ve built a state-funded building on campus,” said Pamela Transue, TCC president.

She said the new buildings and the renovation of another would be welcome on a campus that has seen enrollment increase by about 30 percent over the last few years, making it one of the most crowded campuses in the state.

Fred Whang, vice chair of TCC’s Board of Trustees, said the new buildings would help meet the needs of the community, and promised efficient use of money spent.

“We fulfill our mission with taxpayers in mind,” he said.

State legislators who were responsible for helping to get funding for the projects were excited as well.

“Tacoma itself is only going to realize more economic success,” proclaimed state Rep. Patricia Lantz (D-26th District).

State Sen. Shirley Winsley (R-28th District), herself a graduate of TCC who lives near the campus, said the new buildings will change the character of the school.

“I think today is sort of a rebirth for this campus,” she said.

A representative of Gov. Gary Locke was also on hand to express support for the projects.

Community colleges do the “heavy work” as the entry point to the state’s higher education system, said Wolfgang Opitz, deputy director of the Office of Financial Management.

“The tens of thousands who come through here will benefit from the new investments,” he said.

The projects are:

– A $14.5 million, 54,300-square-foot Information Technology Center. Construction is expected to begin this month and completed in November 2004. The new building is to be located on the south end of campus and will provide 12 new classrooms, six new lab spaces, an Information Commons and faculty offices. The Information Commons will provide 85 to 100 additional computer stations for student use, helping TCC prepare more students to transition to the University of Washington’s Institute of Technology. Callison Architecture Inc. is the the project architect; the contractor has yet to be determined.

– A $3.5 million, 16,765-square-foot Classroom/Administration Building, which is currently under construction and will be completed in July 2004. This building will feature six new classrooms, a multi-purpose board room, two seminar rooms, a small conference room, as well as offices for the president, vice president and support staff. The project architect is Schacht-Aslani Architects of Seattle and the contractor is Scott Wall Construction Inc. of Olympia.

– A 70,000-square-foot Science Building, which is currently in the design phase. The state Legislature has provided $2.4 million in design funding for the 2003-2005 biennium.The new building is to be located at the south end of the campus near the new Information Technology Center., providing a focal point for the south entrance of TCC. The Science Building will house classrooms, lab spaces and a greenhouse. Pending continued state funding, construction is set to begin in July 2005 and be completed by July 2007.

– A $4.9 million renovation of Building 7, which houses the college’s library, several learning labs, distance learning, meeting rooms and the adult basic education and English as a second language programs. Design on the renovation is to be completed in April 2004, with construction taking place from July 2004 to September 2005. Renovation benefits will include better space utilization, improved mechanical systems to reduce noise and provide better climate control, an expanded student body area, an electrical and cable distribution system that better supports technology-based instruction and energy efficiency and reduced operating costs.

The program concluded with school officials, politicians and others donning hard hats and engaging in some ceremonial digging with gold-painted shovels at the site of the future Information Technology Center.

“I hope to see you back here in about a year for a big celebration of the opening of the IT building,” Transue said.

The ceremony concluded with a reception in the Opgaard Student Center in Building 11.