common room with white tables and stools against large map on wall
UW Tacoma Paper & Stationary Renovation / TacomaWA
How do you breathe new academic life into a historical building?

The Urban Solutions Center project encompasses the seismic upgrade and renovation of the Tacoma Paper & Stationery Building, a 40,000 square-foot, four-story historic brick building between the existing Science Building and Dougan Building. Initially built in 1904, this transformation connects past to present and brings new life to a structure with more to give by expanding the UW Tacoma campus's capacity to support innovative, high-demand science and technology programs at the core of the community's identity.

Mortenson and our architect partner, Miller Hull, met throughout the building's design and into construction to ensure the maximization of buildable space within the facility to meet the requirements for the campus master plan. The resulting adaptive reuse improves the building's flexibility to serve evolving interdisciplinary programs, fosters a student-centric experience, and creates a meaningful and vibrant connection with the city through the beautiful historic building as an inspirational backdrop for learning and community engagement.

The Urban Solutions Center's first floor serves as an informal meeting and gathering area, student commons, and event venue. It also houses a "tinker" lab, a space available for student projects and utilizing equipment, including 3D printers. The second floor comprises multiple studio classrooms, seminar spaces, and an urban design lab to support students pursuing a Master of Arts in community planning. The third and fourth floors have biomedical research labs to support a Bachelor of Science program in biomedical sciences, plus collaboration spaces, classrooms, and electrical engineering labs to support a Bachelor of Science program in electrical engineering.

Through thorough risk mitigation planning, the team navigated many unforeseen conditions common to historic renovations that can quickly derail budgets and schedules. The Mortenson team implemented a moisture mitigation plan through a new roof, vapor barrier system, and new windows while maintaining the historical preservation requirement with the Landmarks Commission. We also reclaimed the existing structure, including massive interior wood beams and columns from the Northwest's old-growth forests where possible. Finally, there was the need to tie in the campus loop for utilities. The project team worked closely with the University to solve problems collectively as they arose, delivered the project under budget, and returned $1.5 million to the school.

Facts And Figures


40,000 SF

The Team