Spokane Journal of Business

EWU eyes $25 million upgrade to student union building

Architectural, engineering firms sought for predesign of student union project

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Eastern Washington University is considering a $25 million renovation and upgrade of the student union building on its main campus in Cheney, says Troy Bester, senior project manager for the university.

EWU, located 17 miles southwest of Spokane, has issued request for qualifications for architectural and engineering predesign consulting services for the project to update the 120,000-square-foot Pence Union Building, Bester says.

Subject to funding approval by students, construction tentatively is envisioned to start in June 2015 and would be completed 18 to 24 months later, Bester says.

Funding for the project will be put up to a student vote next spring, because project financing would be repaid through a portion of student fees, says Lee Ann Case, EWU associate vice president of auxiliary and business services.

Case says the PUB is a self-supporting, student-run building, and the project wouldn't receive any university or state funding.

"Major tenants pay most of the operations, and students pay debt services through student fees," she says.

Meantime, qualifications from prospective architectural and engineering consultants are due Aug. 22. The consultant will be selected by the end of September, Bester says.

The PUB is located just south of Elm Street in the north-central area of the main EWU campus.

It accommodates food services, the university bookstore and other retail spaces, student government and university club offices, the office of the dean of students, student recreation spaces, a multipurpose assembly room, and community spaces. The PUB also is the campus hub for Spokane Transit Authority bus service.

"Predesign will establish what should be in a student union building and where trends are going as far as how student unions operate," Bester says. "The goal is to make the facility function better with existing uses and improve upon it."

Predesign services are to be completed by February 2014.

The PUB is made up of an original 63,000-square-foot building constructed in 1970 and a 47,000-square-foot addition constructed in 1995.

Bester says the building has aged to the point that the university would need to improve infrastructure systems and accessibility, even to do smaller projects.

"If we want to continue operating in the older side of the PUB, we need to improve controls and air-handling systems," he says.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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