New health sciences building to be built

As the student population expands again for the fall quarter, so will the campus. The construction of the new T building, made specifically for health sciences, will soon be underway. The building will be directly across from the S building, by the flagpole. According to Vidya Ramachandran, architect and capital project manager at Bellevue College, “The health sciences building is designed to be 70,000 square feet in three floors.”

The building won’t just be for health science students, however. She said it “will also house general assignment classrooms, serving both the institute and the college at large, in a variety of sizes and configurations.”

Currently, there are no designated spaces specifically for health sciences, according to Ray White, the vice president for administrative services. “It’s kind of scattered,” he said. “A lot of it is in the B building. The nursing programs [and] faculty offices for those programs are over in the first floor of the R building. They’ll all move in.”

“If you haven’t been around for a while,” White said, “it probably feels like [the project] just dropped out of the sky. But it has been just kind of on hold.” Although all of the preliminary designs were complete in 2008, the actual construction of the building was halted by the crash in the economy that same year.

“We were waiting for the economy to start up again. And we weren’t expecting to get it back online as quickly so we were kind of surprised when they said, ‘okay, by 2013 you can build.’ We learned about that and it was kind of like let’s dust this thing off and get started.”

According to Ray White, this project is going to cost atleast $35 million. “This is a state-funded building,” he said. “In other words, you tax-payers are paying for this one.”

Even though the construction for the building isn’t going to individually affect the students financially, it might be a hassle during the year while the building is built. For one thing, parking will be a bit more limited, according to White. “In the short-run … we lose 140 spaces. In the long-run, it would only be about 100. There are 100 spaces out in the farthest corner of our parking lot every day, so really what’s going to happen is its going to push people another 100 feet further from the campus.” In addition to that, he mentioned that the “whole dropoff area [by the flagpole] will be closed. So we will be not only losing parking but rerouting traffic.” This will go on for most of the 18 months that the building will be under construction.

The building will also incorporate “environmentally conscious strategies and technologies and will achieve a minimum of LEED Gold certification,” according to Ramachandran. This is a level of certification that depends on how environmentally friendly a building is. To achieve this certification, the building is designed to have “ample access to light and air, visual connection to the environment, exceptional indoor air quality, energy efficiency and user comfort.”

Construction will start “in just a matter of weeks,” White said. “I would expect the contractor to start putting up fences around the construction site within the first two weeks of August.”