Brelsford WSU Visitor Center
Fifteen-foot-tall concrete letters reading "WSU" and a steel-plate tower establish the western entrance to the university and serve as highly-visible icons to drivers traveling along State Route 270. Designed by Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects, visitors will discover a light-filled, modular space that showcases materials developed at the WSU Composite Materials and Engineering Center and interactive displays that celebrate the research accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit of faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The center's design-build team featured graduates from the WSU School of Design and Construction.
Backstory and Context
The Breslford WSU Visitor Center serves as a welcoming center for Washington State University. Often affectionately referred to as “Wazzu” from its acronym WSU, it was founded in 1890 as a land-grant college and a three-member committee selected Pullman as its location on April 27, 1891, thrilling the community’s residents.1 Construction soon began on the first building, a one-story red brick building perched on a hill.
The Agricultural College, Experiment Station and School of Science of the State of Washington opened on January 13, 1892, with 59 students enrolled. The campus developed over the next decade. The four-story Administration Building (now called Thompson Hall) is the oldest building on campus, constructed in 1894.2
The school was renamed the State College of Washington in 1905, and by 1915 was officially Washington State College (WSC). The college grew significantly after the end of World War II as veterans returned from overseas and took advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, which guaranteed them free tuition and a monthly living allowance while in college. In 1959, WSC became a full-fledged university, with the Washington State Legislature passing a bill to change the school’s name to Washington State University.
2. George A. Frykman, Creating the People’s University: Washington State University, 1890-1900 (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1990), 21 and 48.