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OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building passes design review

The City of Portland Design Commission on Thursday approved plans for the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building in Portland’s growing South Waterfront neighborhood. The commission has jurisdiction over the exterior look and massing of the building, including height, colors, finishes and landscaping. 

With approval of the design, construction of the building can now continue. Over the past several months, work has focused on site preparations and foundation work. This includes the driving of 650 steel piles to a depth of up to 105 feet. Design Commission approval now permits the contractor, JE Dunn, to begin the above-grade portions of the building.

“Design review was the biggest approval hurdle left in the project, and we’re happy to be moving forward,” said Mark Williams, associate vice president for campus development and administration at OHSU. 

“We’ve been working with the Design Commission formally and informally over the past six months, and it’s been a very productive process. We’ve made several changes in response to the commissioners’ suggestions, and we think the building design is better for the feedback.”

The design of the new building is intended to capture the spirit of collaboration between the partners and the shared goal of discovery associated with life science research and education. As such, the building design is contemporary with two tower masses connected by a large atrium in the center of the building where students, researchers and faculty will mix. The light-filled atrium is up to 75-feet high with two large lecture halls and bridges connecting both sides of the building. The building is clad in perforated metal panels and glass.

“The client asked for a forward-looking design appropriate for a new century, a new riverfront campus, and a new partnership between OHSU and the Oregon University System,” said Paul Zajfen, the lead designer of the architectural team, which includes Sera Architects of Portland and CO Architects of Los Angeles. “To their credit, they wanted to embrace the future of architectural design rather than the proverbial university building clad in brick and ivy. I believe we exceeded their expectations with a striking building design that will be a positive addition to the city’s skyline.”

Once completed, the OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences Building will include:

  • Skourtes Tower: new cutting-edge learning space and clinic for the OHSU School of Dentistry to replace aging facilities on Marquam Hill
  • PSU’s biology and chemistry lectures and laboratories
  • Education space for OHSU’s medical students (MS1-2) and dental students (DS1-4), nursing students, physician assistants and radiation technologists
  • OSU’s College of Pharmacy (3rd year of joint OSU/OHSU program)
  • A state-of-the-art simulation center where clinical teams (physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, PAs, healthcare professions students, staff) train side-by-side
  • OHSU Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine
  • Labs for research in basic and applied science and engineering for OHSU, OSU and PSU
  • Shared instrumentation labs with electron microscopy, NMR and other specialized, sophisticated instrumentation
  • Ground floor retail space for lease

The building, which hopes to achieve LEED Platinum certification, is scheduled to open in two stages: in August 2013 for the Portland State University fall term; and in Spring 2014 for OHSU and OSU research and academic programs.

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