Monday, November 23, 2009

Olympia Avenue Student Housing

Olympia Avenue Student Housing in Pullman, Washington by Mithun

Photographs © Benjamin Benschneider are courtesy Mithun.

According to the project information from Capital Planning and Development at Washington State University, the Olympia Avenue Student Housing is "the first student housing facility constructed on the WSU Pullman campus since 1972." Furthermore, it "will set a new standard of quality for residential life, offering flexibility to adapt to students' changing needs while reflecting the University's values in sustainability and ... enhancing the student experience."

Completed in August 2009, Mithun designed and permitted the building in only five months. Including design and construction, the project's duration was just over one-and-a-half years, a very fast schedule for the $26 million project that will house approximately 230 students on five floors. The building is targeted for LEED Gold, with an online checklist in PDF format for those interested in a sneak peek at certification.

Residents enter the building from the south into a double-height space at the basement level. A stair adjacent to this space (the main lounge) encourages walking up to the dormitory floors above. From here the plan is pretty straightforward: a double-loaded corridor extends the length of the building with a variety of room types offered for students. Lounges are provided at the ends of each floor as places for relaxing, communal study, or a break from one's roommate. The basement level also includes a classroom, meeting room, and media center to further extend each resident's use of the building.

The green features in this building reflect Mithun's widespread commitment to sustainable architecture as well as what is becoming the norm in LEED and even some non-LEED projects: geothermal heating/cooling, sun-shading (largely dictating the building's appearance), stormwater collection and reuse, regional materials, recycled materials. It is a straightforward building executed skillfully and thoughtfully, educating the residents about sustainability as much as their classes.

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