EWU Joins Partners in Celebrating ‘Topping Out’ of Catalyst Building

October 23, 2019 by Leilah Langley


A huge milestone for Spokane’s first zero energy building as those involved in the unique partnership gathered Monday, Oct. 21, to celebrate the installation of the last beam atop the five-story structure—an event known in the construction industry as “topping out.”

The Catalyst Building, which will feature Eastern Washington University as the primary tenant, is the anchor building to a planned innovation hub on the south side of the University District. The 150,000 square-foot facility is being built out of environmentally friendly cross-laminated timber (CLT), which will help reduce energy use in the building.

Catalyst Cullinan Signing
President Cullinan signs Catalyst “topping out” tree Monday, Oct. 21, in Spokane.

During the topping out ceremony, a crane was used to place a CLT tree on top of the building to commemorate the landmark moment in the construction process. The tree was signed by representatives of each entity involved in the project, including EWU President Mary Cullinan.

Avista Development and South Landing Investors, LLC, which include longtime McKinstry executives, are the main developers of the project. Katerra is manufacturing the CLT in its new Spokane factory and is the design builder for the project.

Eastern will house at least four programs inside the Catalyst when it opens fall 2020—Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Visual Communication Design (VCD).

Catalyst Classroom
Replica of Catalyst classroom space on display inside McKinstry’s SIERR Building in Spokane.

“We’re so proud of our partnership with Avista, McKinstry and Katerra to make this happen,” says David Bowman, dean of EWU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CSTEM). “The Catalyst is making so many things happen, it’s facilitating so many exciting things at the university. We will be the place that people are coming to see when they want to learn how to develop for the future.”

As the main tenant, EWU’s spaces will feature modern, high-tech classrooms and common areas that will provide students with immersive learning experiences. The university believes this will increase the capacity of the regional workforce in key areas of engineering, computer science, data analytics, digital media and tech commercialization and transfer.