Reconnecting a Campus to its Community

Jewell C. Manspeaker Building

Grays Harbor College

The Manspeaker Instructional Building was the first step taken in the transformational new master plan for Grays Harbor College. The project provides a much-needed sense of arrival and identity that connects the upper and lower campuses, and visually connects the entire campus to its community.


75,000 sf


Aberdeen, WA

Year Complete


2008 Interior Lighting Design Award — IESNA Puget Sound Section Awards

Creating a Gateway

This instructional building is designed as a series of rectangular volumes connected by a dynamic, outdoor space. A large roof spans the outdoor areas, sheltering building entries and creating a large “gateway” that marks the main entry to the campus. Sited on a steep, wooded hill, the facility takes advantage of the slope, connecting lower campus parking at the base of the hill to the main upper campus using dramatic tiered staircases.

The building includes multi-use classrooms and labs, computer labs, nursing labs, keyboarding and instrumental music rooms, adult basic education facilities, and faculty and administrative offices.

Connecting to the City

Lighting highlighting the timber column and the wood decking of the roof plane allows the community to view campus from downtown Aberdeen and the surrounding hills northwest of the Chehalis River. The view defines a conceptual “town-to-gown” axis running through the timber column that is in alignment with Aberdeen’s downtown street grid. The new facility is therefore visually and conceptually linked with its community, eliminating a former sense of isolation and presenting an inviting and proud public face for higher education. The “high school on the hill” now feels appropriately like a college.

Flexible Classrooms

Classrooms are designed with movable furniture, which can be easily configured in a variety of ways to support different teaching styles and student interactions.