Construction crews become commonplace

Although the jackhammers and work crews from the streetcar construction have slowly filtered off of campus, more projects are underway. During a summer marked by mostly clear, moderately warm weather, Portland State University is busy working on renovation projects designed to improve the experiences of University faculty, staff and students alike.

In June, Smith Center closed down its entire third floor corridor and meeting room space to bring the building in line with safety code regulations. Other projects for Smith Center include last week’s asbestos abatement and first floor meeting room remodeling, which will enable students better access to University organizations and services. There is also work being done on the fourth floor of the building to allow improved access to students with disabilities.

“The point of both remodels is to improve the fire life safety aspect of the building and incidentally, to make it [the building] look better,” Smith Center Project Manager Chris Cooksy said.

The Smith Center renovations are expected to be completed by the early part of the fall 2001 term.

Smith Center isn’t the only project creating a buzz around campus. Millar Library recently began construction of a $2.8 million Research and Learning Center, which will be located on the second floor. The new center will become the library’s research hub, centralizing all reference information to one location. The new center will include an online catalogue, and an “electronic classroom,” where students and other patrons can learn research skills. Members of the University community can access information regarding the location of collections displaced due to the second floor construction at

One of the projects this summer many students may not ever come in contact with is the final phase of construction for the Fourth Avenue Building, located at 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave. When completed this fall, the new space will house the engineering and computer science departments, both of whom are currently headquartered in the Portland Center for Advanced Technology (PCAT). Once the departments have moved, the university will use the vacated space to temporarily accommodate the recent demand for more classroom space due to growth in student population. While the building is being used as classroom space, plans will be finalized concerning the development of the second phase of the Urban Plaza Center, which will be constructed on the current site of PCAT.

If that weren’t enough to keep even the most ambitious architect busy for the next year, the university also announced that construction will begin for of a multi-million dollar Native American Student and Community Center. The center, when completed, will provide a cultural and academic home for Native American students and residents. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2002.

Other projects in the works for the University in the future include renovations of the Student Health Center, Helen Gordon Child Center, an addition to Parking Structure Three and the development of a new student apartment complex on the current site of the Birmingham building.