Cascadia community is proud of new building

Despite some chilly, wet weather, student Dave Chapman happily threw open a window on an upper floor of the very new three-story, $35.8 million Global Learning and Arts Building on the campus of Cascadia Community College in Bothell.

One of numerous staff members and students helping with a sneak peak of the new structure, Chapman wanted to show off one of the building’s roof-top gardens.

Though he said they are small, the gardens will help filter rainwater, not only reducing run-off from the building, but supplying non-drinking water for use in the facility.

Room for up to 800 students, a 250-person auditorium and numerous environmentally conscious touches such as the roof-top gardens were among the main attributes touted as Cascadia showed off its newest academic building Nov. 19.

The evening actually was a fund-raiser to endow a new Cascadia scholarship. Students led tours of the building, with staff and other students showing off various features of the facility.

Construction on the 53,000-square-foot structure began in May 2008. With nine total classrooms, the building will be open to students in early January.

Speaking before a gathering of about 100 people in that already mentioned auditorium — known, by the way, as Mobius Hall — Cascadia President William Christopher touted his school’s growth in recent years.

According to information provided by Cascadia, fall enrollment was up 16 percent over this time last year. Christopher joked that growth is fueled by what he called Cascadia’s central location.

“We are at the center of the known universe,” he said. “Anyone who wants to go anywhere, will end up here.”

More seriously, Christopher said easy freeway access, increased greatly by the new Interstate 405/State Route 522 ramp, which only opened in the fall, was attracting students from all over, including northern Snohomish County.

Again, according to information provided by the school, the top three cities feeding Cascadia’s student population are Bothell, Woodinville and Kirkland. Of all Cascadia students, 70 percent go on to receive four-year degrees.

Referring back to environmental measures, Christopher said the Global Learning building easily will qualify for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification and might even earn a Platinum award. At a building tour stop outside a still gleaming mechanical systems room, student Mark French said the pipes and duct work behind him were the source of the building’s heating and cooling, which is done using hot or cold water.

French also talked about a 15,000-gallon, run-off collection tank at the base of the building. Like the water from the roof-top garden, tank water is pumped into the building, somewhat filtered and used to flush toilets and for other non-drinking purposes. French said persons using the building’s restrooms might notice the water in toilets is a little darker than they are used to, but he added the conservation measures used in the building will add up to a 40 percent reduction in water usage.

Other environmental touches in the building include wide use of natural lighting and occupant sensitive electrical lighting. Trees cleared for the project were used to supply wood for benches in the building.

At other stops on the building tour, various faculty showed off art rooms featuring what was described as state-of-the-art equipment. Other classrooms included movable, stuffed chairs with arm rests that double as desk tops. In the international students’ office, Masaru Kibukawa said Cascadia has 70 students from 17 countries outside the U.S.

Speaking to would-be donors to the new scholarship fund, Cascadia graduate Deborah Oaks said she arrived at the school with a new baby, troubled personal finances and low expectations for herself and her future. She added the Cascadia staff soon had her setting her sights a lot higher.

Oaks eventually not only graduated from Cascadia, but went on to the University of Washington and works for an environmental group.

“I wish I could say I make a lot of money saving the world,” Oaks said. But she added, while she did not want to be cliched, she is doing what makes her happy.

For information on or to donate to the scholarship fund, call the Cascadia Community College Foundation at (425) 352-8840.

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