On the University of Washington Tacoma's urban-serving campus, the past, the present and the future are all on full display.
Although they have been fully restored, many of the buildings that comprise UW Tacoma continue to uphold the architectural aesthetic of the surrounding area. While the original façades have been reconditioned, and their interiors renovated, they still preserve the look and feel of the Tacoma that stood long before the university made the area its home.
Venture further into the campus' interior, however, to the place where Longshoremen’s Hall once stood, and you will be greeted by the contemporary look of steel girders and large glass panels that will comprise the new University Y Student Center. A $20 million, 73,000-square-foot, three-story facility that will feature a full gym, basketball court, indoor track and dedicated space for student programs, organizations and events, it also serves as evidence of UW Tacoma’s continuing efforts to transform its urban campus, and to provide students with the facilities and resources they most want.
While UW Tacoma acknowledges the area's past through an architectural blend of the historic with the contemporary, the university, in conjunction with ILWU (the International Longshore and Warehouse Union) plans to recognize the significance of Longshoremen's Hall with a large wall display and a plaque, memorializing not only the previous structure, but also the many contributions made by the union and its members over the years.
In 1951, Tacoma’s independent International Longshoremen’s Association (which became Local 23 of the ILWU in 1958) took the first step in establishing Longshoremen's Hall on the corner of 17th and Market Street. Construction on the unassuming, one-story structure was completed in May 1952. The hall served as the union local’s nerve center until a new headquarters was established in Fife, and the university took ownership of the building in the '90s, eventually re-christening it the Longshoremen's Hall Recreation and Collaborative Learning Center in 2007.
Since that time, UW Tacoma has had the great fortune of being a part of a diverse urban landscape, one that has transformed greatly in a very short amount of time. And with every step the university takes forward, there comes an opportunity to look back and to recognize the rich history of its surroundings, and to acknowledge the contributions of those who helped shape downtown Tacoma and pave the way for the future.
In that sense, the efforts made by UW Tacoma as well as the ILWU to memorialize Longshoremen’s Hall ensure that a piece of the past will be always be remembered, even as this campus and its urban setting continue to evolve and move forward into a bright future.