Managing Editor 

EWU projects highlight busy 2018 construction year


January 3, 2019

Eastern Washington University started the year landing not one, but two much-desired projects, and ended 2018 by opening another one launched by students in 2016.

As the year began, Eastern officials were uncertain about funding they had requested from the state Legislature to build the Interdisciplinary Science Center on campus in Cheney. The $67 million facility next to the existing Science Building would provide state of the art lab space and classrooms.

With funding tied up in disputes surrounding the $4.2 billion 2017-2019 capital budget, EWU officials were approached by executives at Avista Utilities about the possibility of partnering on facility on a 5.5-acre lot owned by Avista near the southern terminus of the pedestrian bridge linking East Sprague Avenue with the University District.

On Feb. 6, Avista announced the construction of the $50 million Catalyst Building, with Eastern as its anchor tenant occupying 57,000 square feet of the 150,000 square foot building. The facility is set to open in 2020.

Just prior to the announcement, the Legislature passed its capital budget, thereby sending funding for construction of the ISC to Eastern. With both buildings set to benefit the university’s sciences, officials said most of College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics electrical engineering, networking science and cyber security course offerings would be sent to Spokane.

That would leave the facilities in Cheney free to take on more mechanical engineering and robotics courses. Groundbreaking on the ISC was held in late summer.

And in November, the university held a ribbon cutting reopening the Pence Union Building, closed since a student-passed fee increase in 2016 set up funding for renovation of the student union building, dubbed the university’s “living room” by administrators. The remodeled PUB utilizes the original 120,000-square-foot footprint of the building constructed in 1968, but is now has a more open, brighter feel to it through the use of more glass and increased space.

Some of the amenities in the remodeled facility include larger and more accessible meeting rooms and office spaces, a technology center, printing stations, laptop-checkout kiosk, a gaming lounge, commuter lounge and gender-neutral bathrooms. Food services will be expanded, and will include a Panda Express as a main tenant.

In addition, the PUB will be the headquarters for various student organizations, EWU Eagle Life, the rebranded Eagle Store (Bookstore) and home to the university’s new Multicultural Center.

Overall, cost for remodeling the PUB is currently at $47 million, with construction tabbed at $30 million.

John McCallum can be reached at


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