As Washington State University concludes a quiet semester, the school has finished a pair of major construction projects on its Pullman campus worth more than $75 million and is nearing completion on a third building worth more than $60 million.
Louise Sweeney, project manager lead for WSU’s Facilities Services department, said the first of these, a state-of-the-art plant biosciences building, was completed in late October and WSU held a virtual dedication ceremony earlier this month.
The four-story, 82,400-square-foot building is billed by university leaders as a modern research venue for students and faculty studying topics related to food and agriculture — a $51-billion industry in Washington alone. The new facility carried a price tag of a little more than $66 million and was mostly funded by the state, with the help of $7.5 million in departmental funds.
Sweeney said staff and faculty are in the process of moving into the new building but that usually takes a couple of months, even when logistics aren’t complicated by COVID-19.
“It is a research building, so as research is being conducted, you have to kind of wait for the right time to move things,” she said. “I think it’ll be probably a good three to four months process with the COVID issues that they have to deal with.”
WSU also completed a new, 12,800-square-foot baseball clubhouse in November. Sweeney said the $10,000 facility was completely funded through donations. She said the facility will give the team a place to prepare for practices and games and provide offices for coaches, among other things. In years past, she said players walking the length of campus in their full uniform was not an uncommon sight.
“The clubhouse is going to provide them locker rooms, for one thing, a weight training room, a classroom and just more access to the field,” Sweeney said. “It’s really to give them a home — they haven’t really had a home before, where they can really hang out as a team.”
The third and final major ongoing project on the Pullman campus is the final phase of expansion of WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health. The 61,000-square-foot facility cost a little more than $61 million and was financed entirely through state funds. Sweeney said the building is expected to be completed by the end of January, move-in is planned to begin in February and a ribbon cutting has been scheduled for April or May.
“We probably won’t be finished moving in until April, maybe early May, because there’s a lot of equipment that’s being ordered, and just a lot of technical steps that have to be completed,” Sweeney said. “They’re biohazard Level 2 in that facility and so there’s a lot of regulations we have to follow there.”
The new facility will house the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory as well as the Allen School’s disease detection and surveillance system. Sweeney said the school shifted focus this year to aid with the COVID-19 research and testing and has even ordered special freezers for storing vaccine samples if and when they become available.
Sweeney said for the time being, most other projects are on hold until financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic abates. However, she said coming projects are not likely to be huge, multi-million-dollar facilities but rather more subtle infrastructural improvements and maintenance.
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