William W. Philip Hall opens, fills need for assembly space

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Ribbon-cutting ceremony set for Tue., Sept. 23, 10 a.m.


Students arriving for autumn quarter classes at the University of Washington Tacoma next week will have a new facility that provides much-needed space for campus events, as well as a place for students to hang out and study between classes. With the advent of the university's growth to a four-year institution, space for larger events has been a pressing issue. Previously, the largest assembly space on campus was Carwein Auditorium, with a capacity of 162. The new William W. Philip Hall, which accommodates 300 to 500, provides a venue for lectures, concerts, banquets and student activities, and will also be available for community events.

The architecture of the building is striking, yet blends well with its century-old neighbors on a campus that combines an appreciation of Tacoma's history with up-to-date functions. Philip Hall is the only modern structure among a row of historic brick buildings facing Pacific Avenue that make up the main entry to the university.

Formerly occupied by storefronts and an open-air shed, the space now supports a contemporary building featuring expansive glass windows that take in views of Mount Rainier, Union Station, the Glass Museum and Commencement Bay. Thomas Hacker Architects designed the building; contractor John Korsmo Construction, Inc., broke ground in September 2007.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will officially open Philip Hall on Tues., Sept. 23, at 10 a.m., on the UW Tacoma campus. The public is invited.

The largest room in the building, the James A. Milgard Family Assembly Room, will be used for lectures, concerts, banquets, student activities and community events. The Jane Thompson Russell Commons provides students with a quiet place on campus where they can gather informally to study or meet in small groups. Student art will be displayed in the high-ceilinged, atrium-like Judith Graubard Kopp Gallery. The ground floor facing Pacific will house retail space for lease.

A $2 million dollar gift from James A. Milgard and a $500,000 gift from the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation helped make the assembly hall possible. The Milgards requested that the building be named after William W. Philip, retired chief executive officer of Columbia Bank. Philip played a seminal role in getting the UW Tacoma campus established, sited and supported by the South Sound community. When UW officials were seeking a location for the campus, Philip encouraged them to consider downtown Tacoma and helped arrange real estate options to keep land and building acquisition costs down. He has chaired or been the key volunteer for each of UW Tacoma's fundraising campaigns, and currently serves on the university's Development Committee.

"Bill Philip was one of the catalysts behind the success and growth of UW Tacoma," said James Milgard. "He's very deserving of this recognition." Gary E. Milgard (deceased), the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation and James A. Milgard have given generously to the University of Washington Tacoma. Their 2003 gift of $15 million, one of the largest private gifts ever received in the UW system, established the Milgard School of Business and the Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility.

Funding for Philip Hall is the result of a public-private partnership, with the state contributing $7.5 million toward the $12 million cost of the building and $4 million raised through private donations. Ray Tennison, chair of the UW Tacoma Advisory Board and former chair of the Development Committee, noted that the hall will benefit the community as well as the university.

"Philip Hall is an important new building for the entire region and a highly visual, permanent tribute to an individual whose generosity of time, finances and leadership transformed the quality of life in this city," he said.

September 16, 2008