By Rob Andrilla
Students returning to Whatcom Community College after spring break may notice a new structure on the far side of the soccer fields: the Auxiliary Services Building. It is home to Whatcom’s mailroom, as well as the Copy and Print Center, and serves as the base of operations for grounds keeping and maintenance services.
Located behind Roe Studio, on Kellogg Road, it is the newest addition to Whatcom’s campus. At 15,000 square feet, the new building is more spacious than the old office where copy services were housed in Cascade Hall.
This new structure has been in the proposal stage for over four years, said Nate Langstraat, Whatcom’s vice president for administrative services. The college did not receive any state funding to create the new workspace.
Without physical instruction space, Langstraat said, the building would not be paid for by the state. In order for state funds to be applied to buildings on campus, the construction must result in growth in a certain discipline or department, he said.
The building was designed by Zervas Group Architects, and construction of the building was contracted to Strengholt Construction Co. The total cost of the building is estimated to be between $5 million to $5.5 million.
Langstraat said that the consolidation of departments housed in the new building “freed up space for instruction” and allowed for more simplicity, with “one office for one department.”
Rosemary Sterling, manager of copy, print and mail services, recalled with a smile that in the old office, “we had two little rooms and two small offices.” The new building provides space for machines needed to process bigger printing jobs, as well as more complex jobs like assembling binders and lamination.
Sterling said she remembers operating out of the much smaller office, when fold-up tables and laminator had to be moved before and after any job to keep the space free for the next user. “The time saved is incredible,” she said. “If I have a project it can go start to finish without having to move it around.”
Sterling said that in past years, lack of storage space was a problem that negatively affected productivity. “Paper storage was everywhere,” she said. “The paper storage attic had low ceilings, and people would hit their head going in to get paper. Now we can stand up in all our areas.”
Mass mailings can now be more straightforward, with more space allowing mail to be kept in the mailroom and not all over the place. There is space for a van to pull directly into the mailroom and unload, as well as a loading dock for trucks to drop off larger shipments.
The efficiency that this new building provides can save Whatcom both time and money on a large scale. Copying and printing jobs can be done in less time with the same staff that worked out of the old office, Sterling said.
“We recycle everything,” Sterling said, adding that because of the new space, things like empty boxes can be saved to serve another purpose.
The structure itself is designed to meet the requirements for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver rating.
LEED is a rating system developed by the nonprofit United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to measure the environmental impact of new construction. The ratings are determined based on a variety of factors such as location, building materials, natural light and efficient use of water. The Auxiliary Services building is set to be officially inspected for certification in the coming year.
The campus maintenance department, which was previously located off-campus, is also housed in the Auxiliary Services Building. Whatcom is saving “$40,000 to $50,000 a year on space previously leased for maintenance storage alone,” Langstraat said.
For those who do not want to venture to the far side of campus, there is a smaller copy center in Laidlaw 103. However, for those that must make the trip there is a drive-up window where faculty can pick up their projects.
The new Auxiliary Services Building “indirectly allows for growth in other areas of Whatcom,” Langstraat said. “[It] is something the campus community should be proud of. It’s only natural to be good stewards of our resources.”