On Nov. 16, the long-awaited Innovation Hall at the University of Washington Bothell and Cascadia College opened its doors, signaling a significant expansion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) research and education in the region.
During a reception for project partners, supporters, elected officials and community and business leaders, Chancellor Kristin G. Esterberg said, “This building is a physical manifestation of our campus partnership and our shared commitment to opening greater and more equitable access to the higher education pipeline.”
The $79-million, 80,000-square-foot building includes 21,500 square feet of program space for each institution, with an additional 5,000 square feet of shared space. Programs offered will include biology, chemistry, computer science, physics, and electrical and mechanical engineering, with classes open to students in the respective institution’s majors.
Designing across disciplines
State-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms and offices are designated for each institution, distributed across each floor so that related programs are adjacent to one another. Together with shared spaces for students to study and gather, the building is designed to encourage collaboration and create more opportunities for cross-disciplinary studies and research.
“As an organic chemist, it is rare to have the opportunity to be part of designing lab space that is instrumental in students’ learning and growth,” said Dr. Azizeh Farajallah, Natural Science division chair at Cascadia College.
Farajallah described the labs as not only places where students and faculty could conduct research that helps students develop critical thinking skills but also where they can dive deeper into their passions and tackle real-world challenges by making meaningful connections and integrating knowledge across disciplines.
“We are entrusted with young intelligent minds keen to gain skills and become confident in demonstrating their knowledge — and Innovation Hall will help foster that,” she said.
Opening up socioeconomic mobility
When it opens its doors to students in winter quarter, Innovation Hall will reflect UW Bothell and Cascadia College’s key objectives for the project: maximize space for instruction and research; create environments to support collaboration; foster active and inclusive learning; strengthen interaction between the college and university; and display a commitment to environmental sustainability.
During the opening reception, Dr. Leslie Cornick said, “This event represents much more than a building or a partnership. Today, we look ahead to a new vision of collaborative STEM education and seamless opportunities for students across our institutions. Their educational experience at UW Bothell and Cascadia College will be a gateway to a career and socioeconomic mobility.”
Cornick, dean of the UW Bothell School of STEM, noted that already the “new era” of the partnership was bearing fruit in conversations about emerging biotech curriculum and peer mentoring programs.
“I’m excited about the opportunities this will bring for faculty as we comingle and collaborate rather than just coexist and co-locate,” she said. “The future for our students as they enter this incredible building truly is boundless.”
We look ahead to a new vision of collaborative STEM education and seamless opportunities for students across our institutions. Their educational experience at UW Bothell and Cascadia College will be a gateway to a career and socioeconomic mobility.Dean Leslie Cornick, School of STEM
Investing in a just future
In 2019, UW Bothell and Cascadia College each were designated to get approximately $40 million in state funding for a new STEM facility, intended for two separate buildings. With an escalation in construction costs and an interest in reducing site impacts, the two institutions joined forces and together worked with the design build team of Lease Crutcher Lewis and Mithun to realize a shared vision in one building.
UW President Ana Mari Cauce said, “I’m truly proud of our state — donors, taxpayers and elected officials — who have supported Washington’s investments in innovation and STEM education. These investments support a more sustainable, healthy, innovative and just future for all of us.
“Innovation Hall holds the incredible promise of helping to realize that future by enabling new research, learning and discovery, and critical workforce development. This is what it means to help Washington and the world flourish.”