University of Washington Tacoma, Milgard Hall

The new mass-timber Milgard Hall is an interdisciplinary building at the University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) that responds to the need for STEM programming in the South Sound. Home to a novel mix of STEM and business programs, the 55,000-SF-building supports innovation, design thinking, and entrepreneurship.

Entrance to Milgard Hall, showing brick facade and mass timber structure by Jeremy Bittermann / JBSA

Milgard Hall embodies UWT’s mission as an “urban-serving university” and creates an accessible and welcoming space for collaboration between university and community groups. New labs, a machine shop with CNC mills, an outdoor Science Court, and flexible collaborative spaces and classrooms nurture cross-collaboration between the Milgard School of Business, the School of Engineering & Technology (SET), and the Global Innovation & Design (GID) Lab.

  • Milgard connector, photo by Jeremy Bittermann / JBSA
    The "Connector" on each floor of the building is a common space that also reveals the timber structure.
  • Milgard Hall lab photo by Jeremy Bittermann / JBSA.
    The building features daylit lab spaces and classrooms throughout.

The use of mass timber, a low-carbon renewable resource, was a central design priority. Timber features less embodied energy than other commonly used structural materials and imbues spaces with natural warmth. The exposed glulam structural system references the region’s timber legacy and is also educational to the building’s engineering students.

A double-height High-Impact Practice Space (HIPS) functions as a large classroom as well as community event space.

All departments converge in the “Connector,” an open circulation and collaborative zone that promotes activity between SET, GIDLab, and the Milgard School of Business. A spacious common area, the “Connector” extends through the building and integrates with a natural path across campus.

  • The ground-floor Connector.
  • Exposed glulam timber structural system.
  • View of HIPS and ARO Grid from above.
  • Milgard Hall photo from the Prairie Line Trail by Jeremy Bittermann / JBSA
  • Milgard Hall photo from the Prairie Line Trail by Jeremy Bittermann / JBSA

Located adjacent to the revitalized Prairie Line Trail (a once major north-south artery in Tacoma) and surrounding historic warehouse structures, the design of Milgard Hall is rooted in Tacoma’s historic connection to lumber trades as the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad.


Exterior materials mediate between the modern urban fabric of downtown Tacoma and the surrounding historic and campus contexts. Local brick is used on the north and east sides of the building, which house the classrooms and faculty offices, while profiled metal panels on the south and west correspond to the lab spaces visible from the Prairie Line Trail; the building is carefully sited to maximize access to daylight and views.



Connecting students and faculty across the campus, with the urban neighborhood, and to local history, the building is designed for campus use – with a regional impact.

Design-builder: Andersen Construction

For more, listen to Principal Kim Yao’s interview on the American Buildings Podcast or watch the project update above.



2023 AIA Washington Council Civic Design, Merit Award

2023 DBIA National Award of Merit, Educational Facility

2023 City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Award, Sustainability

2023 ENR Northwest Regional Best Award of Merit – Higher Education/Research

Photo of people entering and exiting Milgard Hall
Milgard Hall Wins a 2023 DBIA National Award of Merit
University of Washington leaders cut the ribbon on Milgard Hall, inside the new HIPs space
University of Washington Tacoma Cuts Ribbon on Milgard Hall
Final slab of CLT tops out Milgard Hall
Private: UWT’s Mass Timber Milgard Hall Tops Out
Rendering of UWT's Milgard Hall
Private: Watch – UWT Milgard Hall Project Update
Photo of people walking in and out of a 3-story brick building, and sitting on entry steps
Milgard Hall in Architectural Record
Rendering of the interior of UWT's Milgard Hall, showing mass timber construction
UWT Milgard Hall in Tacoma Weekly
UWT Milgard Hall on American Building Podcast
UWT Milgard Hall on American Building Podcast
UWT Milgard Hall in Seattle Daily Commerce
UWT Milgard Hall in the Seattle Daily Commerce Journal
UWT Milgard Hall in the Tacoma News Tribune
UWT Milgard Hall in the Tacoma News Tribune