Lack of resources prompted research of WSU buildings

Students use history to create new resource for university staff members



WSU students used the history of buildings on the Pullman campus, like Waller Hall, to create a book that should help the university staff on future construction projects.

CAMERON SHEPPARD, Evergreen reporter

Students at WSU researched the architectural history of the university to compose an informational booklet that will help guide future builders to be consistent with the campus’s design standards.

Phil Gruen, WSU associate professor of architecture, said the idea for this project came from the lack of easily available resources regarding the design and history of buildings on campus, for both the general public as well as designers and builders.

“I think it’s a beautiful campus, and it’s not appreciated enough,” Gruen said.

Abigail Shane, a master’s student of architecture, said this was a collaborative class project to help aid in the historical preservation of the WSU campus and the buildings that make it up.

Gruen said groups of students were assigned to research different eras of construction and development on campus ranging from 1890 to present-day. He said it was up to students what kind of information they wanted to include in their parts of the booklet.

Shane said the research process required them to look through online databases as well as through boxes of files from the campus library.

“We did a wide variety of research,” Shane said. “A lot of it had to do with this idea of significance.”

She said the students had to consider what information would be significant to individuals of the community as well as to those outside of the community who may want to know about these buildings.

Gruen said students found some consistencies in buildings from specific eras of WSU’s development.

Buildings built from the 1890s to the 1920s were built with the recognizable red brick, while structures like the Compton Union Building, built after World War II, were made of concrete, steel and glass.

Gruen said the booklet composed by his students will offer a relatively brief overview of the history of the built environment and landscape of WSU.

He said the booklet will be given to WSU Facilities Services, which is in charge of building structures on campus. The booklet will help lay out the design standards shared between all the buildings at WSU, things like acceptable materials and accessibility issues.

“The basic codes that go into the construction of any building,” Gruen said.

He said the research done by students will also help give historical context to these structures and the campus as a whole. It will help people understand the time period when these buildings were constructed.

“The hope, optimism and dreams of these builders, planners and administrators of that time,” Gruen said.