Health and Science Technology Building at SWOCC to be finished in 2020 | Education

Health and Science Technology Building at SWOCC to be finished in 2020 | Education

COOS BAY — Southwestern Oregon Community College is a year away from having its new Health and Science Technology Building.

Bogatay Construction began “building vertical” this week, with plans to have the walls and roof up before the winter storms start.

Contractors work on a form as walls go up on the new Science and Technology Building at Southwestern Oregon Community College.

Already being boasted as the most energy-efficient building on the Oregon coast, the structure will house a modernized Umpqua Hall, new science labs, as well as study halls and offices for SWOCC’s medical programs.

“Most of our existing buildings were built in the 1950s or ’70s, so are fairly old,” said Elise Hamner, SWOCC’s dean of resource development and foundation director. “We worked with the Oregon Energy Trust on the design of this new building, which will use a lot of solar heating and windows that will automatically operate to draw in natural air and keep it fresh at all times.”

The building, which will operate with solar panels, will also have automatic blinds to shade rooms from the sun. The college hopes for the building to be energy neutral at times.

“Over the last five years, we designed the building to leave a small footprint,” Hamner said, which is setting an “important sustainability metric for the SWOCC campus.”

In an email to The World, Hamner explained that the building is set to perform 70 percent better than today’s current buildings of similar scale and use.

The $24 million structure is anticipated to be completed in time for its grand opening on Oct. 2, 2020. The wood-themed, technologically advanced space will be the home for 90 percent of SWOCC’s students who enroll for medical or science classes.

Hamner pointed out that there will be new science labs on site, replacing the ones elsewhere on campus that were built back in 1955.

“Our current labs have six stations where students can’t collaborate because equipment gets in the way,” she explained. “Our new labs are interactive and have better use of technology to share teaching and classes with our Curry campus. Professors will be able to hold classes on two campuses at the same time. The building will be more student-friendly, a place where students can get together to work on projects.”

Leonard Phearson, superintendent for Bogatay Construction, showed The World construction maps for the new Health and Science Technology Building. The old Umpqua Hall is being modernized and included in the construction and when finished will hold 175 students, making it the largest academic lecture hall at SWOCC.

Contractors work as the first walls go up on the new Science and Technology Building at Southwestern Oregon Community College.

“Classes are already clamoring to sign up at Umpqua Hall,” Hamner laughed.

Phearson pointed out that on the first floor, there will be room for an ambulance to pull up to train firefighters how to rescue someone from a house fire. Up the stairs leading to the second floor is a mock bedroom and mock bathroom for this purpose.

“The first floor will also have study halls and a big lobby, with all wood accents and wood beams,” Phearson said.

When SWOCC planned to move forward with construction five years ago, the original cost estimate was $15 million. That has since gone up as Oregon’s construction rates have increased upwards of 10 to 30 percent every year.

“It took a long time to raise the money, but the Ford Family Foundation was a major supporter,” Hamner said.

Though the cost increase made it more difficult to get the project off the ground, now it is almost finished. Bogatay Construction has only run into a few delays, which came during the foundation work when ground water was discovered.

“But we made it work,” Phearson said. “Right now we’re running roughly a month behind.”

Aside from the actual construction, landscaping will include vegetation and ponds that will capture rainwater for irrigation.

“It’s going to add a lot to the campus, I believe,” Phearson said.

Hamner pointed out that the wood theme is a nod to the area’s logging history, one that she hopes enriches local heritage while also being beautiful.

“This new building sends a message that we’re a vibrant place,” she said. “It’s already bringing in students who want to start once the building is done. The whole reason we’re expanding our nursing program now is to be ready once this building opens to use it to capacity and meet our community’s needs. We’re looking forward to the modern space.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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