Building of the future

As with most new 21st Century technology, the most impressive stuff is the stuff nobody sees. From the wind turbines and solar arrays on the roof of Clark College's new Columbia Tech Center building to the Wi-Fi coursing through building, its biggest impacts are made behind the scenes.

Catering to the corporate community

Clark's department of Corporate and Continuing Education, which serves the business community and offers classes to the public, will headquarter its new Corporate Learning Center at the building.

The center will include a 3,420-square-foot flexible meeting and exhibit room on the first floor, an 1,750-square-foot meeting and exhibit room on the third floor, an 18-seat computer lab for technical training, an art room, a conference room, a "smart" classroom and a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen.

These spaces will be available to the business community and public for conferences, events and business meetings, and for private corporate customized trainings and continuing education classes.

In the coming year, CCE will begin using a Mediasite lecture capture system by Madison-based Sonic Foundry. The system will inexpensively and easily capture a presenter's lecture, including video using cameras already in the rooms, audio and any electronic materials such as PowerPoint presentations, said Todd Oldham, executive director of Corporate and Continuing Education.

Not only can these lectures be web- or podcasted live, they also can be packaged in a fully navigable format, which can be archived on the web. This technology could be used to create new online courses or as a value-add to a private event or training, Oldham said.

"If a company wants to do a conference, we could webcast that event for them, record it and stream for them on their website," he said.

The kitchen currently is fully equipped to record classes and demonstrations, and may eventually be equipped with cameras overhead to record cooking-show style, said Jim Watkins, site project manager.

Corporate and Continuing Education is in the midst of launching a Corporate Learning Portal, an online space where these types of captures and other information could be viewed or downloaded. It should be finished by the end of the summer, Oldham said.

A building to meet the need

"The technology that was going to be (at the new building) was driven by the programming decisions that we made, based on a needs assessment we did about the Columbia Tech Center building a few years ago," said George Reese, Clark College director of instructional programming and innovation.

Programming and certifications available at the new building include:

  • A certificate in business technology as well as a pathway that begins with a one-year accounting clerk certificate and culminates in a business administration transfer degree.
  • An Associate of Arts transfer degree.
  • A power utilities certificate, which results in an apprenticeship with one of the local utilities and utilizes classrooms completely customized for the program. This is the only programming solely offered at the CTC building.
  • A data networks and telecommunications certificate, which will utilize a fully equipped classroom/server room.
  • Running Start classes for high school students from the Camas, Washougal, Hockinson and Evergreen school districts.

In addition, the building houses a Learning Commons. It's a library – without books. The space will be equipped with Wi-Fi-enabled computers, meeting spaces and librarians who can order materials from any of the college's campuses and from a network of Oregon and Washington universities.

One smart building

The building itself is technological whiz kid. Designed by Vancouver-based LSW Architects, it is on track to earn LEED Gold certification, a U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design level that exceeds state regulations.

One passive and one active solar array sits on the building's roof between two wind turbines. These devices are already feeding the building energy, though it doesn't open to the public until late summer.

The roof is also wired and ready to house an astronomy observatory and weather station, and a deck awaits a class interested in building and maintaining a partial green roof.

Classroom and meeting spaces are equipped with a PowerLogic monitoring system from Illinois-based Schneider Electric that tracks the amount of power being consumed, and all the data is captured and sent to a real-time public display in the lobby of the building.

"The plasma screen is more than just a fun little tool," Watkins said. "It gives you a lot of information and it's easily accessible."

The classrooms have lighting that is easily customizable depending on the activity. About 90 percent of the public and office spaces have double-paned windows, which cut down on the use of artificial light and insulate the spaces. Lights automatically shut off when no one is in the room and artificial lights dim when natural light levels are at code.

The four-story building is equipped with security
cameras, announcement-enabled fire alarms and an area of rescue assistance system to provide priority rescue to wheelchair users. All security and emergency systems are integrated with Clark's other campuses.

The $27 million building is located on nine and a half acres, which could eventually house another 40,000-square-foot-building.

Events made easy

In a new partnership with Marriott SpringHill Suites and Phoenix Inn Suites designed to attract events and conferences to the east side, Clark College will provide instruction and event space and the hotels will rent rooms to event attendees on the new campus.
Audiovisual services are available with event rentals, including a wireless microphone, podium microphone and audio podcasting and webcasting. The Smart Room Audio Visual Package includes a computer with the Microsoft Office Suite, Internet access, a digital overhead projector, LCD projector and a DVD player.  

Jessica Swanson can be reached at