It’s a move with an eye on the future, but Everett Community College’s big leap across Broadway will come with a nod to the past. Construction will start soon on the Cascade Learning Resource Center, a name chosen to reflect geography and campus history.
Cascade Hall was the student center destroyed in the 1987 arson, which burned the college library and took the life of Everett firefighter Gary Parks.
On June 22, the EvCC Board of Trustees approved the name for the $52 million, 65,000-square-foot building that will rise on the 17-acre site of the former College Plaza shopping center. It will house the John N. Terrey Library/Media Center, Tutoring Center, Writing Center, eLearning, Instructional Media Services, the Russell Day Gallery and the Center for Transformative Teaching.
“It will be a beautiful facility, lots of natural light,” said Patrick Sisneros, EvCC’s vice president of college services. Work will start around Sept. 1, and the new center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2023.
The college Board of Trustees approved the move across Broadway in 2018, but not without strong objections to campus expansion across a five-lane thoroughfare. In opposing the plan at the time, the faculty union and an EvCC student survey cited issues of safety, inconvenience, and accessibility for people with disabilities.
“We tried to address the objections,” Sisneros said Wednesday. “One thing we are going to do is have a campus shuttle, operational once the building opens.” A pedestrian bridge has been talked about. Sisneros said the college is continuing to have conversations on the topic with the city of Everett.
The center isn’t the only new college building planned for the property east of Broadway. Sisneros said pre-design work has been completed for a new Baker Hall just east of the Cascade center. That project is scheduled for the 2023-25 biennium. Built in 1962, the current Baker Hall will be torn down, making more open green space on the main campus.
The Parks Student Union will continue as a student gathering place and cafe on the current campus, Sisneros said. Named in honor of the fallen firefighter, it was built in 1988 to replace Cascade Hall.
John Olson, the college’s executive director of government and community relations and the EvCC Foundation executive director, headed the building naming committee. The group included a student, faculty member, classified staff, a Board of Trustees member and someone from the foundation, Olson said.
The group sought nominations, and received at least 17 suggested names before the Board of Trustees made the decision.
Some name ideas didn’t meet the criteria, Olson said. If a building is to be named for someone, the person has to have been “removed from the college for a five-year period,” he said.
The college’s tradition of naming buildings after peaks in the Cascade and Olympic ranges continues. Olson said there is a Cascade Mountain, “with a variety of geological features.” The building, too, will have multiple features. Cascade Mountain, with an elevation of 5,581 feet, is in King County, and part of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Campus visitors may not notice that some buildings are oriented in relationship to peaks for which they’re named. Among those, Olson said, are Rainier Hall facing Mount Rainier, Olympus Hall facing Mount Olympus, and Baker Hall, aligned with Mount Baker. Shuksan and Whitehorse halls are newer EvCC buildings named for mountains, Mount Shuksan east of Mount Baker in Whatcom County and Whitehorse Mountain southwest of Darrington.
The general contractor for the Cascade Learning Resource Center is Mortenson, the company that constructed EvCC’s Gray Wolf and Whitehorse halls, as well as Seattle University’s Lemieux Library expansion and, at the University of Washington, the Odegaard Undergraduate Learning Center renovation.
Since EvCC’s library was built in 1988, the number of students has nearly tripled. For the 2020-21 academic year, EvCC had 16,776 students for all types of education, credit and non-credit, according to Katherine Schiffner, the college’s director of public relations.
Enrollment growth and its pressure on Everett’s Northwest Neighborhood was addressed in 2018 by then EvCC President David Beyer, who supported the learning center’s move across Broadway.
One who spoke in favor of the move back then was Mary Fosse, leader of the city’s Delta Neighborhood group. “We want a college district,” Fosse said at the time. Seeing EvCC in their neighborhood could encourage children to think about educational opportunities, she said.
Touching two neighborhoods, the college is also likely to widen its reach into the community.
Sisneros said the Cascade Learning Resource Center will have a presentation space. A black box theater will be part of the new Baker Hall. Old shopping center buildings will soon be gone. Extensive landscaping is in store for the area between those new buildings and WSU Everett.
“From 2007 to today we have built Whitehorse Hall, Gray Wolf Hall, the Walt Price Fitness Center and Liberty on the west side,” said Sisneros. Liberty Hall, home to EvCC’s nursing and other health sciences programs, was named for Liberty Mountain in the Cascades.
Sisneros is excited about the next phase — the east side. “Alumni from 15 to 20 years ago are amazed at what’s changed,” he said.
Julie Muhlstein: firstname.lastname@example.org