Built during the Nixon administration, when Vietnam protests and shag carpet were commonplace, the original Pence Union Building, the central gathering place on campus for students, has remained virtually the same during the last 40 years. That’s about to change.
Continuing its strong growth and revitalization efforts, Eastern Washington University is in the preliminary phase of a multi-million PUB renovation project that, with student support and Board of Trustee approval, would significantly update the popular structure. The PUB’s design was based on the architectural trends and prevailing union models of the time, with cast concrete and brick walls, small windows and discrete, private areas to accommodate small groups of students. The parents of many students weren’t even born yet in 1970 – and while the rest of campus has been updated, the central structure has largely been eschewed, with only one renovation coming in 1995, in favor of educational and living-quarter buildings.
“It’s time for it to be redesigned, and to give today’s students a center that’s responsive to their needs, and to bring the building into compliance. The architecture of the PUB is absolutely architecture of its time. Today’s student unions are structurally different – they’re open, light-filled areas that allow activity between groups,” said Associate Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students, Amy Johnson. “We want to provide a living room on campus. A place for students to study, work and play; to connect with campus resources that help them succeed academically and graduate in a timely manner.”
Underscoring the price tag, which will be financed by student fees, is the fact that the four-decades-old PUB currently needs approximately $10 million in repairs – including the fixes to the roof and mechanicals such as HVAC.
The new PUB, design of which is the initial stages and which the university is seeking copious input from students concerning, will hopefully contain improved traffic flow, enhanced safety, increased storage for students and tenants, greater revenue-generating operations, better social and academic spaces – including highlighting key departments, increased social and recreational offerings for students and improved pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns, parking and bus access.
“Student involvement is an important facet. We’re doing everything we can to encourage student input – what they want, what they’d like to see,” said Johnson. “We’re also launching a student survey so that they can voice their input and priorities – ASEWU will be taking a lead role in soliciting and gathering student feedback.”
That student involvement includes several open forums, the first of which takes place immediately after the students return from winter break:
When: Thursday, Jan. 9
Where: PUB, room 204
Time: 5-6:30 p.m.
A timeline for the PUB redesign is as follows:
- June 2013-architect selection for pre-design
- June 2013-February 2014 pre-design process and scoping size of project
- March 2014-financial analysis completed to determine debt capacity and student fee necessary to fund project and operations
- April-May 2014-student vote on fee
- June 2014-BOT approval
- June 2014-design process begins
- Summer 2014-financing process complete, bond proceeds received
- March 2015-design complete
- Summer 2015-construction begins