WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- The $13-million, 50,000-square foot Reid Campus Center, which welcomed students, faculty and staff to a splashy open house Wednesday, Jan. 23, is a rich blend of college tradition and architectural innovation.

Structurally, the building's brick facade gives the building a timeless look, but inside are modern light-filled spaces that flow naturally into one another. The red brick on the outside gives way to a "green" building on the inside. For example, sunlight coming through the large south-facing windows will be used to warm the building, and natural convection techniques will be used to cool the building when the inside temperature is warmer than the outside temperature.

The campus center, located at the corner of Boyer Avenue and Park Street, is named for R.R. "Pete" Reid, a member of the Whitman class of 1949 and a 50-year veteran of the college's administration. Beginning in career services and alumni relations, Reid eventually served as treasurer, chief financial officer, overseer of the Whitman Farm Committee and (currently) as special assistant to the president.

Now, the building named in Reid's honor houses student resources such as the college bookstore, post office and cafe, and offices like the Career Center and the Intercultural Center. In addition, the student government, newspaper The Pioneer, and radio station, KWCW, are quartered there. A grand ballroom for guest bands and other performers, lounges, and numerous meeting rooms round out this newest addition to the campus.

The Coffeehouse, located on the ground floor of the three-floor structure provides a comfortable venue for musical performances, literary readings and impromptu theater mini-shows.

The college's food service provider, Bon Appetite, offers a cafe selection that includes open hearth pizza, Mongolian cuisine, roasted vegetable salads and expanded grill items.

Many gifts from alumni, parents and friends of Whitman College made the new campus center possible, and donors named several rooms after past and present Whitman people, including former professor David Stevens, former student union directors Vern Solbach and Vern Kinsinger, current professor George Ball, and alumni Lois and Dudley Dambacher. Two anonymous donors contributed a total of $6 million toward the center's construction, and the Whitman classes of 1950, 1960, 1961, 1966, 1975, and 1991 funded the Cafe, the Career Center, the Center for Community Service, and various lounges and meeting rooms throughout the center. The Parents Fund financed the Coffeehouse, and Bon Appetite contributed funds for the open hearth pizza oven, which is rumored to cook chocolate chip cookies in just two minutes.

The Reid Campus Center is the latest in an extensive upgrade of campus facilities. In recent years the college has restored the Music Conservatory, originally built in 1910, to its original splendor and rededicated it as the Hunter Conservatory and Center for Communication Arts and Technology; remodeled and enlarged Penrose Library (open 24/7 to students during the academic year); acquired the 22-acre Johnston Wilderness Campus in the Blue Mountains; built the Bratton Indoor Tennis Facility; and dedicated a 17-acre athletic facility. Currently under construction is a new science building, scheduled to open in September, 2002.

The architect for the Reid Campus Center is Thomas Hacker and Associates, Portland, and the general contractor is Emerick Construction Company, Portland.


Lenel Parish, Whitman News Service, (509) 527-5156
Email: parishlj@whitman.edu