Promoting Exploration and Discovery at WSU's New Home in Everett

WSU Everett

Washington State University, Everett

The WSU Everett is a new home for a coalition of learners, educators and industry partners. Expressing WSU’s core values, it creates a distinct identity and envisions future growth toward a fully developed campus. As the inaugural building for WSU’s new branch campus, it dramatically expands access to higher education in the North Puget Sound region with concentrations in science, technology, engineering and math.


95,000 sf


Everett, WA

Year Complete




2019 Citation Award — AIA Washington Council Civic Design Awards

2018 Silver Award — BD+C Building Team Awards

2017 Champion of Sustainability — McKinstry

The Innovation Forum

The Innovation Forum is the heart of the building – a four-story atrium linking major entry points and providing access to the full range of activities within. Like an interior street, the Forum is fronted by key student support elements with multiple “storefronts” for student services, a tiered lecture hall, a media-rich classroom, and the Capstone Studio, an upper-division lab providing students and industry partners a place for invention and innovation. The Forum serves as a pre-function space and a gathering place for university and community events.

The focal point of the Innovation Forum is the cantilevered wood stair. Created with regional materials by regional craftspersons, the wood stair is both a nod to the history of the Pacific Northwest timber industry and a statement of modern engineering, combining renewable resources, creative ambition and advanced manufacturing technologies.

A typical floor on the east side of the Forum includes classrooms, engineering labs and student seminar rooms. Using a dimension module that optimizes lab planning, the instructional spaces are designed with flexibility and adaptability in mind. To the west of the Forum, faculty offices and conference rooms surround a central, light-filled triangular atrium which provides a place for faculty interaction.

High‑Level Energy Performance

The WSU Everett building sets a high bar for energy performance and will serve as a baseline for future campus development. The thermal envelope far exceeds the state energy code standards, and a low-energy VRF system conditions the classroom and faculty wings. The central Innovation Forum is naturally cooled and ventilated with mechanically operable windows and louvers. During winter months, heat energy is harvested from the building’s data center and reused in the Forum’s hydronic radiant floor. A large array of photovoltaic panels at the roof is dramatically exposed as the building’s cornice, cantilevering beyond the south façade. Rainwater is captured in a below-grade cistern and repurposed for toilet flushing and irrigation.

The innovative design of this building references the character of WSU’s home campus in Pullman, WA, while at the same time establishing its own unique identity and setting a precedent for future university development in the North Puget Sound.

Prioritizing the Long‑Range Vision

The building’s massing is oriented toward the south and defines the edges of a central “quadrangle.” The broad south-facing façade provides architectural order and material character that can be referenced and reinterpreted by future buildings.