UW Tacoma: University Y Student Center grand opening Jan. 6

The University of Washington Tacoma and YMCA of Pierce & Kitsap Counties will celebrate the grand opening of the nation's...

The University of Washington Tacoma and YMCA of Pierce & Kitsap Counties will celebrate the grand opening of the University Y Student Center next month in downtown Tacoma.

The 73,000-square-foot recreation and fitness facility includes a full-size gym, weight and card equipment, basketball court, indoor track and fitness programs, plus dedicated space for student programs, organizations, and events.

University of Washington Tacoma officials and YMCA of Pierce & Kitsap Counties officials announced the partnership in January 2013 (see “UW Tacoma, YMCA to partner on new downtown facility,” Tacoma Daily Index, Jan. 16, 2013), and selected Mortensen Construction and McGranahan Architects as the design team for the project in July 2013 (see “UW Tacoma: Design team selected for University Y Student Center,” Tacoma Daily Index, July 22, 2013). Construction began in December 2013.

The grand opening event will be held on Tues., Jan. 6, 2015, between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., at the University Y Student Center, located at 1710 Market St., on the University of Washington Tacoma campus. The event will include facility tours, light refreshments, and special offers. RSVP online to attend the event by clicking here. More information is available online here.


***UPDATE | Weds., Dec. 24, 2014 @ 12:15 p.m. – Here is the official announcement and press release from the University of Washington Tacoma and YMCA of Pierce & Kitsap Counties:

University Y Student Center Opens on UW Tacoma Campus

TACOMA, WASH. — With a swiftness born of dedication, construction on the University Y Student Center has been completed and the facility will open to the public on January 1, 2015. UW Tacoma and YMCA of Pierce & Kitsap Counties will host a community celebration and grand opening on Jan. 6.

The project, designed by McGranahan Architects and constructed by Mortenson Construction, moved quickly, with less than a year between the issuance of the building permit in Dec. 2013 and owner occupancy in Dec. 2014.

“The momentum behind the project speaks volumes about the commitment of UW Tacoma and the YMCA. We knew from the beginning what our collaboration could bring to the community, and we were determined to do what we could to get there,” said UW Tacoma Chancellor Kenyon Chan.

“UW Tacoma is a natural partner and we are thrilled not only to serve the students, faculty and staff of the University, but to create a community asset that serves to strengthen Tacoma,” said Bob Ecklund, president and chief executive officer of YMCA of Pierce & Kitsap Counties.

The University Y Student Center is a one-of-a-kind facility. The building was built and is owned by UW Tacoma and will be operated by the YMCA. It houses a large, well-equipped health and fitness center, and also office, meeting and social space for UW Tacoma students. With this mix of uses, the facility simultaneously reaches into the heart of campus life and bridges out to the community.

It’s not just the mix of uses that sets the Center apart. Students voted to increase their student fees to fund a portion of the building and operational costs. As part of the partnership, the YMCA will extend the benefits of membership to all registered UW Tacoma students. This means students, many of whom are commuters, can use not just the University Y, but any YMCA facility in Pierce & Kitsap counties. And the University Y will be open to all local Y members, whether or not they are students.

Jocelyn Patterson, president of the Tacoma campus’s student government, said, “When the University Y opens, we feel we won’t just be enhancing the student experience, but strengthening our connection to the community. We are excited by this new adventure, and can’t wait to see what it brings not only for our campus but for the city of Tacoma.”

The impetus for this unique collaboration emerged almost simultaneously in the two organizations. At UW Tacoma, Cedric Howard, the vice chancellor for student enrollment and services, commissioned a campus facility study in 2008. The top recommendation was the creation of a student union. In that same year, “community and business leaders challenged the Y to reach outside our walls and further into the community to deliver our healthy living and youth development programs,” said Bob Ecklund of the Y.

The catalyst that drew the two organizations together was UW Tacoma’s late chancellor Debra Friedman. She served as chief administrator of Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus from 2008-2011, as planning for a student union attached to an existing Y facility was underway. “When Chancellor Friedman joined UW Tacoma, she brought with her a vision for what we could do together. With the University Y complete, her vision will impact the community for years to come,” said Ronn McMahon, the Y’s senior vice president for strategic advancement and collaborations.

Rai Nauman Mumtaz, president of UW Tacoma’s student government during 2010-11, said, “This building was a multi-year and multi-million dollar process. It was truly a collaborative effort that has already brought—and will continue to bring—the greater Tacoma community together. Once the University Y Student Center opens, our community will be even stronger.”


  • 70,000 sq. ft. on three floors;
  • $22 million total project budget; design-build contract awarded to Mortenson Construction-McGranahan Architects;
  • Center for Student Involvement, with space for student government and student organizations;
  • Gymnasium that can be configured for two half-court basketball games or one NCAA regulation sized game. Gymnasium is encircled with an upper level 1/12-mile running track;
  • Extensive state of the art cardio, fitness and weight training spaces and equipment;
  • Men’s and women’s locker rooms and two group-exercise multipurpose studios;
  • Child watch facility; reflection room for quiet contemplation;
  • Climbing wall with five routes, from beginner to advanced;
  • The Game Room—the central student social space of the University Y;
  • Student Assembly – multi-function space seating up to 370 banquet-style;
  • Videoconferencing center available by rental;
  • Community room with kitchenette available by reservation to all users.


The University Y Student Center is built on the site of Longshoremen’s Hall. That building was built in 1951 and opened in 1952, housing the International Longshoremen’s Association, which became Local #23 of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) in 1958. Union business was carried out on the site until 2002, when a new union hall was built in Fife. UW Tacoma acquired the building in the 1990s, using it as a student recreation and collaborative learning center from 2007 until it was demolished to make way for the University Y.

The role of waterfront workers and the ILWU and the legacy of Longshoremen’s Hall are honored in a two-story mural adorning the main entry area of the new building. The mural, by Tacoma artist Chelsea O’Sullivan, depicts a modern container ship alongside an older breakbulk carrier, showing at a glance how changes in technology have affected waterfront working conditions. Chelsea O’Sullivan’s other work is visible in murals throughout Tacoma, including a fantastic rendering of lotus and cherry blossoms with a giant octopus right across the street from the University Y, on the back wall of the Tacoma Buddhist Temple.


When: Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 5:30 p.m.
Where: University Y Student Center, 1710 Market Street, Tacoma, Wash.
Featuring: Remarks by UW Tacoma, YMCA and community leaders
Facility tours 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Longshoremen’s Mural dedication 7:15 p.m.

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