New UW Tacoma buildings open as enrollment grows

A bold sky bridge connects two new buildings at UW Tacoma. Photo by Brian Anderson

The opening of Winter Quarter on Jan. 7 also saw the opening of two new buildings on the UW Tacoma campus that strengthen its science and student learning programs. The Science Building and Keystone Building, which together cost $15.6 million, straddle a working railroad line and have a sky bridge that connects them.

The 48,000-square-foot Science Building finally gives UWT laboratory space for its natural science courses. In addition to labs for chemistry, geology and biology, the building features computer labs that will be shared with UWT’s new technology institute students. It even has a rooftop greenhouse.

The Keystone Building houses a teaching and learning center in its 13,500-square-foot structure. The center helps students who need support in writing and math, or who want to improve their ability to work in groups or hone public speaking skills. It also has a 162-seat auditorium for lectures, film classes and community meetings.

The new space came just in time. UW Tacoma has grown at an average rate of 15 percent a year since it opened in 1990 with 176 students. Today the campus enrolls 2,000 students. The campus serves undergraduates at the junior and senior level and also offers master’s degree programs.

The next step for UW Tacoma will be a $41 million renovation of five historic buildings. Three connected warehouses on Pacific Avenue, known as the Cherry-Parkes Project, will become classrooms, labs and a Web broadcast studio. Two warehouses on C Street will hold space for offices and student services. Construction is slated to begin Aug. 1. When this new phase is complete, UW Tacoma will grow from about 300,000 to 400,000 square feet of space.