An early schematic design for Seattle University’s Center for Science and Innovation received a mostly positive reception from a standing advisory committee on Tuesday night.

The new 110,000-square-foot complex is being designed to be Seattle U’s new gateway to its Capitol Hill campus.

“It is our front door,” said Lara Branigan, director of design + construction at Seattle U. “We’re trying to make it more of one.”

Cited in the university’s Major Institution Master Plan as an academic and law school expansion project, the original plan had been to complete the project in 2013.

“We’re a little late, fundraising being what it is,” said Branigan, adding the law school is not part of this project.

The Center for Science and Innovation is largely being supported with a $20 million anonymous gift received in 2015, and will be sited at 12th Avenue and East Marion Street.

The complex will include four stories of lab space that serves the College of Science and Engineering, and provide space for faculty-student collaboration, as well as opportunities for partnerships with businesses, nonprofits and the community.

What Seattle U is most excited about with the project are the community-activation components that will be on the ground floor of the five-story complex and facing out on 12th Avenue.

That includes a 2,300-square-foot Center for Community Engagement, which will support the Seattle University Youth Initiative. The current center occupies a smaller space in the basement of The Douglas building.

With more than 100 community partners, the Center for Community Engagement supports early learning and expanded summer education, youth-serving organizations, arts and culture and health care access, and also advocates for affordable housing and incubating small businesses.

A 450-square-foot Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, also fronting and activating 12th Avenue, will partner with the Center for Community Engagement to support local business startups. Seattle U has been reaching out to the Capitol Hill community to offer such support, said Toni Loiacano, in charge of academic planning and design with EYP architecture firm. The complex will also be used by the Albers School of Business and Economics.

Covering the farthest north section of 12th Avenue, and wrapping around to Marion, will be a 1,120-square-foot maker space.

“We’re seeing these in the elementary schools, all the way to the high schools,” Loiacano said. “Now, we’re seeing these in the universities, as well as in community centers.”

This space will provide Seattle U students and community members a place to engage in or watch people creating things with their hands, the list of items provided during the Jan. 9 SAC meeting including everything from woodworking to robotics.

Branigan said the university has found that 5 p.m. to midnight is the prime time when maker spaces are used most, which will provide the added bonus of late-night eyes on the street on top of providing the public views of interesting things being made.

Seattle U launched KXSU, the city’s first low-power FM station, in the basement of Campion Hall back in early 2016.

The station will relocate to the second floor of the Center for Science and Innovation once the complex is completed. Loiacano said the station runs 24 hours a day and includes more than 200 students. Putting KXSU on the second floor was decided partly for safety reasons, and it also provides a 180-degree view outside.

David Thomas with EYP said the Center for Science and Innovation is being set back to “harmonize” with the adjacent Sullivan Hall. SAC members generally supported having the complex constructed against Sullivan Hall, which will discourage creating a pass-through that would need added public safety measures.

Thomas said building materials will mainly be brick and glass, with a cast stone or limestone element around the base.

SAC member and architect Wolf Saar questioned the placement of a rain garden on East Marion Street, because it interferes with accessing the front entryway to the building, which is proposed to include a terrace with flexible seating, seat steps and an ADA-accessible pathway on 12th. Branigan said the design team recently had the same thought, and plans are to address the issue prior to a Feb. 6 meeting where the final schematic design will be presented. The corner will likely be adjusted with added hardscape, she said.

Saar also said he’d like to see a proposed coffee shop on the ground floor be brought to the front of the building, as a midblock connector. Branigan said coffee shops don’t operate late night, which doesn’t support Seattle U’s evening community activation goals.

SAC member Bill Zosel warned that the existing University Services building that will be razed to make way for the center is old enough to be nominated for historic landmark status. Branigan said she’s seen the report, but there are no concerns at the moment. Those services will be relocated to a new student housing building being constructed at 12th and Madison, which is expected to be ready for occupation by fall 2018. 

Robert Schwartz, Seattle U associate vice president of facilities, said the desire is to begin construction of the Center for Science and Innovation in June 2019 for a fall 2021 opening.

Part of the CSI project includes renovations to the Bannan Science and Bannan Engineering buildings for an integrated center, Schwartz tells CHT.

Center for Science and Innovation Presentation 010918 by branax2000 on Scribd