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Growing a health sciences campus

We're growing an entrepreneurial health sciences campus founded on elements that are essential for success:

  • Spokane's top-notch medical community
  • WSU's strength as a major research and land-grant university and our long history of teaching the health professions
  • The opportunity to bring together complementary strengths of multiple higher education institutions
  • A focus on leveraging applied research for a measurable impact on the health of individuals and communities
  • Involvement of our design, education, and policy programs to strengthen the health care sector
  • The opportunity to build a brand-new campus with multidisciplinary programs and an innovation culture and ecosystem in a prime urban location that serves a large rural region.

Learn about WSU accomplishments and activities in the health sciences.  Read the recent proclamation by the WSU Board of Regents (PDF) designating WSU Spokane as Washington State University's Health Science Campus.

Once the domain of Northern Pacific trains, the Spokane campus is developing into a center of teaching and research excellence in the health sciences. Click "Play" above for a slideshow detailing the development of the campus, past, present, and future.


Campus Master Plan

WSU Spokane Master Plan Update

Public Open House Meeting #2, April 14, 2014 (pdf) »

2009 Master Plan

The campus master plan was last updated in 2009 to help address changes and opportunities on campus and around us.

Our future as a biomedical/health sciences campus includes working in partnership with the region's health care community and private and public partnerships in the expansion of a four-year medical school.

Recent changes on campus include construction of the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building and the consolidation of the WSU College of Pharmacy in Spokane.

Changes around us

Growth of retail, mixed-use, and housing development along West Main Avenue and on East Sprague Avenue, expansion of the Convention Center on the west edge of the University District, and the extension of Riverside Avenue/Martin Luther King Jr. Way along the south side of campus, enable major arterial traffic to bypass the center of campus.


Campus design principles


We envision a metropolitan campus that sets the standard for urban revitalization through higher education community partnerships and targeted investment:

  • Home for selected, globally competitive professional programs—primary emphasis on health science, design and environment, education, and business and entrepreneurship
  • Creates knowledge anchor for the Inland Northwest, the community and University Districtattracting talent, public and private investment, and other resources
  • Competitive infrastructure connecting people, classrooms, labs, and information services to the world
  • Fully integrated with neighborhoods and Spokane metro center
  • Designed for full range of multi-modal transportation choices

WSU is committed to a thoughtful and participatory development process that results in an enhanced campus and community life.

The process followed and decisions made will reflect careful stewardship of the public trust, fiscal prudence and appropriate financial return, and best practices in land development, resulting in a high-quality, exciting development project that enhances campus and downtown living.

Long-range planning

Maintain a flexible development policy that stimulates emergence of a globally competitive campus focused on research and the application of new discoveries.

Campus development will:

  • Be urban scale—integrated with, complementing, and expanding a vibrant Downtown Spokane and the surrounding neighborhoods, connected by streets and walkways that encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic and reduce reliance on automobiles and surface parking lots, and utilizing environmentally sustainable design principles.
  • Emphasize a mix of complementary public and private projects, including some university–community partnerships.
  • Establish a strong, integrated campus infrastructure—IT and physical utilities.
  • Emphasize partnerships and reciprocity with the private, public, and non-profit sectors, to enhance core academic activities.

WSU and higher education partners will focus state-funded investment to develop instruction, research and outreach programs, and facilities, and will seek partners to develop complementary services for students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders.

  • Near-term growth of campus academic facilities will concentrate primarily north of Spokane Falls Blvd.
  • Since the 30 campus acres south of Spokane Falls Blvd. will generally not be needed for near-term academic program growth, WSU will pursue market-driven, mixed-use, environmentally sustainable private and/or partnered development of these properties for complementary campus services.
  • WSU will consider whether some small-scale applications of this mixed-use development may be appropriate for the north side of campus.
  • Design elements and treatment of traffic flow will provide convenient and safe links between north and south campus development.
  • A sustainability focus will emphasize systematic solutions to build an expanding, healthy, economically strong, secure, aesthetically pleasing, and thriving campus.
  • Complementary campus support uses include:
    • Affordable housing for students and young professionals
    • State-of-the-art technology and research infrastructure
    • Clinical health, wellness, and recreation
    • Distinctive shopping and dining
    • Arts and entertainment
    • Collateral business, retail, and services—office and laboratory above street level


Master plan documents

Comments or questions regarding the master plan and the planning process can be sent tospokanemasterplan@wsu.edu.

Planning background

In 2008, the master planning/design team met with units of Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, University of Washington, and Sirti (now known as Innovate Washington) to gather information on program plans that drive capital construction priorities, in particular for the health sciences.

Biomedical and health sciences facilities have been identified by WSU and EWU as the top capital priority to support the need for current and future expansion of health sciences research and teaching programs, the primary focus for the campus.

The 2009 legislaturefunded predesign and design for the first building in a biomedical complex--one ofWSU’s capital funding priorities for Spokane. Construction funding for the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building was WSU's top capital budget priority in the 2011 legislative session.

The 2009 campus master plan update built on the 2000 master planning process, during which community members expressed interest in a "university district feeling" for the campus (according to a news release from Feb. 18, 2000).

Community participation in the 2009 master plan update

The community participated in three master plan workshops in March, April, and June 2009 for an update of the campus master plan.

Workshop #3: June 3, 2009

At the final workshop (June 3), planning consultants showed a number of renderings, giving a taste of what the future might hold.

More than 50 community participants discussed everything from practical street design to facilitate snow removal and the importance of accessibility, to the location of retail and dining services and a network that functions well for all modes of transportation.

A wall graphic developed during the workshop captures some of these comments and ideas, as does a transcript of workshop notes (PDF).

The presentation (PDF) made by planning consultants MIG and NAC Architecture steps through several campus buildout elements, with renderings that give the flavor of what the campus will be like—a much more urban, vertical, and dense campus with strong connections to the Spokane River and downtown core.

Workshop #2 report: April 23, 2009

The second community workshop held April 23 laid out overarching strategies and a planning framework for the master plan update. Goals and key themes of the master plan update:

  • Urban campus (high density, smaller footprints)
  • Pedestrian scale walks and malls
  • Connections through campus to city, centennial trail, river
  • Encourage use of alternative forms of transportation: mass transit, bicycle, pedestrian
  • Structured parking
  • Enhanced streetscape: reduced width, pedestrian friendly, landscaping
  • Sustainable campus
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration

Comments coming out of the March 17 that were particularly noted:

  • Strengthen connections to the Spokane River
  • Locate parking strategically
  • Design and construct pedestrian-bike bridge
  • Re-design Spokane Falls Boulevard
  • Link adjacent areas: CBD, Convention Center, Main, Gonzaga, South U District


Planning consultants' presentation (PDF) and workshop notes (DOC).

A number of the slides show representative images from other cities and campuses to spark discussion—they are not necessarily views of campus today or a proposed design for the future.

Workshop #1 report: March 17, 2009

At the first community workshop (March 17, 2009) we discussed the emphasis on biomedical/health sciences research and teaching that is the core of the campus focus going forward. In particular, we presented information on space needs for a number of programs that seek to expand to help address critical shortages in the healthcare workforce.

Joseph Bloom, dean emeritus of the School of Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, discussed the nationwide move to expand education in health care professions—strengths of our current research. He outlined logical next steps in campus growth and development:

– Consolidation of programs:

Move targeted programs from WSU Pullman to WSU Spokane to take advantage of the regional medical center proximity.

– Cataloging and focus:

Analyze what we already have in health sciences and what we need to add. For example, in medical education we have the first, third and fourth years of medical school, and just need to add second-year medical education to have the complete four-year program.  Identify and build target areas of campus and community research strength, e.g.  neuroscience of sleep, mental health and addictions .

– Clinical care:

Develop and strengthen relationships with hospitals, clinics, and practitioners.

The comprehensive academic plan (PDF) developed by WSU, Eastern Washington University and Community Colleges of Spokane lays out all our focus areas: health sciences, design/planning, education, and programs that contribute to community viability including economic development.

Other important needs raised in the presentation and participants’ remarks:

– Maintain and expand opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration: Keep a variety of disciplines in close proximity; be careful about separation of buildings or zones.

– Improve pedestrian connections and safety: "Complete streets" design, management of traffic flows (e.g. Spokane Falls Blvd.), and true multimodal transportation choices.

– Emphasize our connection to the river and downtown.

– Have truly mixed-use buildings/complexes, with private businesses as well as classrooms and potentially housing developed through public/private partnerships.

Key Questions

The focus of comments from a number of participants revolved around our many opportunities to connect and collaborate. Participants were invited to address an underlying theme: How do we build in connecting points, connecting spaces, connecting opportunities, in campus design?

Thinking of connections between disciplines, universities, public and private, students and professionals, neighborhoods and campus, the core of downtown and the east end where we are located, the campus and the south University District across the railroad tracks, the campus and the river: How can campus design facilitate the connections and collaborations that are the heart of our campus culture?

– Workshop participants and others submitted responses to these questions:

– What do you consider to be the major assets of the campus?

– What are the key physical planning challenges and opportunities now and in the future in any of the following categories?

  • Mixed Use Development
  • Academic and Business relationships
  • Connectivity (i.e. pedestrians, bicycles, transit, vehicles)
  • Open Space & Recreation
  • Campus/Community Relationships
  • Services and Amenities (shops, gathering areas, etc.)
  • Housing
  • Sustainability (including energy utilization, building systems, campus operations, etc.)
  • Other

– Additional comments

News Releases


Planning, design and construction projects are everywhere in the University District as the community's vision for a live/learn/work/play center continues to expand. If you know of projects near the campus that should be listed, email communications@wsu.edu, send us a link via Twitter @WSUSpokane, or come put a note and link on our Facebook wall at www.spokane.wsu.edu/fb.

Active Projects:

Biomedical and Health Sciences Building (pictured above)

Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building: Construction has been completed. Classes will be held in the building starting in January 2014.

University District and Downtown Community Projects

Division Street Gateway: Under way

East Sprague Redevelopment Plan: Study under way

East Spokane Business Association/Spokane International District

Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (Riverside Extension): Phase One construction has been completed

Spokane University District

University District Bike/Pedestrian Bridge: Study under way

Development Partnerships

WSU is investigating options for property development that support the vision of the campus as America’s next great academic health science center and the campus vision and goals identified in the master plan update completed in 2009.

WSU will identify other priorities for uses that complement neighboring business and property owners and campus operations, and will strategize with local leaders concerning approaches that will move private development forward in partnership with the campus.



General Information
Rusty Pritchard
Phone: 509-358-7625

Teresa Kruger
Phone: 509-368-6999

Campus-sponsored events
Becki Meehan
Phone: 509-358-7528

Terren Roloff
Office: 509-358-7527
Cell: 509-720-6245