Broadway building tops out

The new Broadway Housing Project for student residents celebrated the moment of reaching its highest elevation Thursday; now it’s a case of filling in the spaces between bottom and top.

The building under construction at Southwest Broadway and Jackson Street observed the milestone at noon with a traditional topping-out ceremony. Topping out marks the highest point at which the final construction element is added to the top of the basic building. At the Broadway, that came at 10 stories and 125 feet above ground level.

The topping out was observed with a special lunch for the construction crew, a few remarks by officials and invited guests, and a tour of a third-floor mock-up of the typical student efficiency apartment. The event was invitation-only, although there will be a public event later.

“This had to be a hard-hat event,” said Barbara Linn, project representative for the building owner, which is Broadway Building LLC, a subsidiary of the PSU Foundation. “We don’t have enough hard hats to invite the public.”

The building has gone up speedily, with the ground-breaking ceremony performed only last April.

“Actually, it is a little ahead of schedule,” said Mike Irish, director of facilities at PSU. The schedule calls for the building to be completed next summer, with residential tenancy available for fall term 2004.

Jan Kurtz, executive director of the PSU Foundation, said the new building represents to the foundation’s board a symbol of the dynamic growth of Portland State and its importance to the community. She said the immediate past president of the board, Judy South, recalled when the Broadway project was approved earlier this year that she had a personal interest in relieving the housing shortage.

“Almost 20 years ago, she was a student awaiting student housing and not sure if she was going to get it,” Kurtz said. “If she hadn’t, she would not have been able to continue her education. So she was very aware of how critical it is to provide housing for students. The Broadway project is very gratifying for her.”

Kurtz said the foundation board appreciates that many students, along with the university itself, are struggling to weather the storm of tough economic times. The foundation is gratified to be able to contribute to the university’s growth in this critical period.


The heart of the Broadway resides in 384 efficiency student housing units on the third to the 10th floors, 48 units per floor. In design, they will resemble those recently opened at Epler Hall. Each apartment will have its own bathroom, a small refrigerator, a bike hanging rack and a microwave oven.

One unusual feature was described by Michele Crim, PSU sustainability coordinator. It is a water-conserving double-flush toilet. One flush button will discharge a small amount of water, the other a greater amount, depending on need.

“You don’t see this as much in the United States as you do in Europe,” Crim said.

Windows in the apartments may be opened and closed. The floors will be bare, polished concrete rather than carpets, to reduce materials used and increase hygiene. In addition to the in-unit bike hangars, there will be a bike parking room of 40 spaces and bike lockers for office users. There will be a standard bike rack outside for short-term use.

The Broadway will house other features in addition to the apartments. The ground floor will include building lobbies, plus about 15,000 square feet of retail and service spaces. The second floor will include academic classrooms, an open-access computer lab, and administrative offices for PSU housing and student life programs, covering a total of 18,000 square feet. There will be no on-site parking.

The building has been especially designed to be eco-friendly. It is expected to earn a silver LEED rating for sustainability. This is a system of rating by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which can give honorary ratings of bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

Speaking of the silver rating, Crim said, “This puts us in about the middle of the pack.” The building will be topped by an eco-roof of 18,000 square feet, the largest in the city to date. The eco-roof is a specialized garden planted with water-retaining vegetation to reduce storm runoff by retaining rain water and to provide some insulation against heat.

All paint and glue in the building have been selected to be low in emissions and high in comfort ratings. Among energy-saving features are high performance window glass, increased wall ventilation and total exhaust heat recovery.

Concerning these energy-saving systems, Irish said, “The goal is to meet 31 percent energy savings based on PGE’s Earth Advantage modeling program.” Under the program, the building is expected to receive a gold rating.

When the building design was approved last February the estimated cost was $49 million.

The Broadway building will help fill a critical lack of student housing as the university continues to grow in student population. At the time the State Board of Higher Education approved the project in February there was a waiting list of more than 500 for student housing. The present waiting list is 246. That figure was provided this week by Joe Vennes, administration manager of housing for College Housing Northwest.

Both Vennes and Don Yackley, director of residence life, will move to the new building upon completion, along with other staff. Yackley said he will miss the flavor of their present quarters in Montgomery Hall but, he said, their moving will free up their office space to put more residence rooms into service and to create a first floor student lounge.