TransAlta Commons
Centralia College
Centralia, WA

Completed: 2017

Size: 70,000 SF

Construction Cost: $43 million

It is anticipated that every student will interact with this building while actively enrolled and also as alumni in the community.


The TransAlta Commons is the new heart of Centralia College, physically and functionally. It replaced the existing Student Services Building and Kemp Hall, both of which were beyond their life expectancy and struggling to serve the students’ and the college’s needs. Wood Harbinger designed the mechanical and electrical systems for the new three-story, 70,000 SF facility, which fulfills its vision as truly communal and comprehensive facility.

The new TransAlta Commons gathers together the essential administrative and financing services of Financial Aid, Student Employment, Registration, Enrollment Services, Cashiering, the International Student Program service and the TRiO programs for low-income and underserved students (Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, and Student Support Service). The building also houses the student lounge, multi-purpose spaces, the college book store, a kitchen, a lecture hall, an active teaching area, the writing and math centers, additional computer lab space, and a large, public use gathering area used by students, alumni, faculty, as well as the surrounding community.

The variety of spaces and services in this building required versatile mechanical and electrical systems. Wood Harbinger’s designs accommodate this multifunctional facility in an integrated, coordinated manner, and energy efficient manner. Our mechanical design included different approaches to best serve the different spaces. We selected a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system with heat recovery for the student lounge, bookstore, administrative, finance, and active teaching areas; displacement ventilation with heat recovery for the multi-purpose areas; natural ventilation with backup displacement ventilation for the commons area; and radiant floor heating in the multi-purpose and commons areas. Water runoff from from the roof is captured for a nearby rain garden. Our electrical design featured all-LED lighting, daylighting, lighting controls, information and communication technology systems, fire alarm, power distribution, and an onsite generator for emergency power.