Center honors the Late Elson S. Floyd’s vision and redefines what it means to be a ‘Coug’
SEATTLE, WA – The Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center (ESFCC) at Washington State University’s Pullman campus debuts at a grand opening celebration September 21st.Designed by GGLO and built by Absher Construction, the ESFCC’s organic form and iconic roof have shaped this premier place for students, faculty, alumni, and the community to celebrate diversity.
The Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, a vision of the late WSU President, is inspired by an indigenous philosophy of respect and interdependence between humans and nature. Influenced by the primacy of the region’s Nez Perce tribe, the Cultural Center’s form and the iconic roof is a simplified, singular structural element of the natives’ earth-shelter structures. The reflective roof skin brings in light to the spaces below, shimmering with a sense of muted Palouse hues, paying homage to both cultural inclusiveness and sense of place.
Mrs. Carmento Floyd, Former First Lady of WSU, shares “Elson said ‘I want a place where everybody is welcome, where everybody is excited to get to know someone else.’ Everything he could have possibly wanted and more is in this building.”
The 16,000 square foot building houses four Knowledge Rooms, Demonstration Kitchen, Dining Room and Diversity Education offices centered around the Living Room transitioning seamlessly into an indoor-outdoor cultural event space and leads to the Meditation Pavilion nestled in seclusion among the trees.
The Knowledge Rooms highlight the traditionally underserved cultures of Washington – Native American, Latino/Latina, Asian/American Pacific Islander, and African American – providing a space for students to explore individuality and the interconnectedness of cultures. The Demonstration Kitchen is meant to serve large functions or bea shared and intimate teaching kitchen.It educates visitors about the social importance of food and provides opportunities for cultural nourishment.
“What began as a student initiative has flourished into this building. Having the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center as the gateway to the campus sends a message to students, visitors, and the world that diversity and culture are important. Absher and GGLO understood the significance of what we were trying to achieve, it is about creating a sense of home,” said Paula Price Groves, Associate Dean for Diversity and International Programs and project committee stakeholder.
“We knew going into it that this project was a little different, it had a purpose – Elson Floyd was a visionary President, and he had this notion of celebrating diversity at the front door to campus – it’s really that simple idea.” Mark Sindell, Design Principal for the Cultural Center at GGLO continues, “The status quo is that designers come up with really creative ideas and then we bring contractors onboard to say ‘too expensive and not buildable.’ GGLO and Absher did not want to do that.”
“I’m an advocate of design-build in the right situations, and this is one of those. We were able to generate a truly unique design that was buildable and affordable. There were many stakeholders with a passionate, vested interest in it; we could not have done it without the design-build process. We are very proud to be part of the beacon light on this side of campus, embracing the heritage that was this land that was the Nez Perce.” added Dan Absher, President and CEO of Absher.
The project team for ESFCC includes GGLO (architect, interior designer, and landscape architect), Absher Construction (contractor), Mimar Studio (Culturally Responsive Architecture – Programming), Olio (Culturally Responsive Architecture – Design), PCS Structural (structural engineer), KPFF (civil engineer), MW Consulting Engineers (mechanical and electrical engineers), Apollo Mechanical (design-assist mechanical) and M&M Harrison Electric (design-assist electrical).