NWIC continues campus expansion

Site work has begun for four new buildings

An excavator works to prepare four acres of campus grounds for four new buildings. The site work began on Lummi campus in mid January.

Two large excavators are shaking the ground of Northwest Indian College’s main campus to prepare four acres for more new buildings. Site work for the four buildings began mid January as part of NWIC’s $44 million capital campaign.

Site work is projected to be completed by May 2012, said Jay Conway, NWIC construction manager. Shortly after that, construction will begin on the first of the four buildings, the Salish Sea Research Center – an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project.

The research facility is expected to cost $2.2 million, $1.5 million of which will be paid for by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

“The research center will provide a state-of-the-art facility for students and faculty to do environmental science research,” said Joel Green, NWIC science director. “Students will gain important skills that will serve them well in future employment as scientists working for tribal, state, and federal agencies and private companies.”   

The facility will include a biology lab, an experimental biology lab, an analytical chemistry lab, a genetics lab, and a microscopy room.

Those labs will increase the types of science classes NWIC can offer, and that greatly benefits students, said Dave Oreiro, NWIC’s vice president for campus development.

“The research labs will be a great addition for students in our Bachelor of Science in Native Environmental Science four-year program,” Oreiro said.

Research done there will benefit the community, too, by providing information about the condition of local waters and lands of the Lummi Indian Reservation and Bellingham Bay, Green said. The college will publish research results and make information available to the Lummi community.  

“The focus of the research at the laboratory will be on environmental science – gathering information to help us understand and protect native lands and the animals and plants that live there,” Green said. 

In addition to being used by NWIC faculty, staff, and students, the center will also be a place for collaborative studies with the Lummi Department of Natural Resources and other tribal natural resource agencies, Green said. 

Estimates put the research facility’s completion at June 2013.

NWIC has contracted with Stremler Gravel for site and infrastructure work, and Zervas Group Architects was hired to design the Salish Sea Research Center, Oreiro said.

The three remaining buildings planned for the area are a library and technology facility, a Coast Salish Institute and auditorium, and the Siam Le Lang (House of Learning).

A timeline for those buildings has not yet been developed because their construction and completion will be determined by how quickly NWIC reaches its capital campaign goal of $44 million. So far, approximately $36 million has been raised.