WWU opens Buchanan Towers addition, remodeled Miller Hall

The major renovation of Western Washington University’s Miller Hall and the five-story addition to the Buchanan Towers residence hall have been completed just in time for classes to start Sept. 28.

The $51.5 million Miller Hall project, funded by the state Legislature, renovated the 134,000 square-foot building, located on the university’s Red Square. The project included renovations to classrooms, computer labs and offices. All building systems such as heat and electricity, elevators, roofing and windows were also replaced.

“This significant renovation of Miller Hall, one of our campus’ most iconic buildings, will result in a substantially improved educational facility and place of learning for our students,” Western President Bruce Shepard said in a press release.

Miller Hall, originally WWU’s Campus School, was built in 1943 and enlarged in 1968. Since then, no major renovation work had been done to the building prior to this project.

The building renovation had a strong green focus and was designed to achieve a rating of LEED Silver or higher. Where possible, the project team used recycled and recyclable products as well as products purchased locally, such as certified wood products from the Pacific Northwest. A green roof was also installed over the new Student Collaboration Space, built in the existing courtyard.

At the southern end of campus, students have started moving into the new 37,000-square-foot, 105-bed addition to Buchanan Towers.

The first four floors feature suites designed for four people, while the suites on the fifth floor can house five people. The first floor was also renovated for a retail café, large public seating and lounge area with study spaces, a computer room, indoor bike storage, office spaces and public bathrooms.

The project was designed to achieve a LEED Silver rating. Site improvements included a new WTA bus turn-out and transit shelter, reconfigured pedestrian pathways, sidewalks and on-site bicycle parking.

The eight-story Buchanan Towers residence hall, originally built in 1971, previously had 424 beds and with the addition will have 529 beds.

In 2009, WWU issued $14.28 million in bonds to finance construction of the new addition. Western was the second issuer of Build America Bonds in the state. Build America Bonds were introduced by the federal government as part of its economic stimulus package in 2009 to offer increased financing alternatives to public agencies. Money to repay the bonds comes from Western’s residence hall system and is not state or taxpayer-funded.

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