Portland State’s first building, Lincoln Hall, will receive $29 million in deferred maintenance work because of the seismic instability of the building, pending approval of the governor’s budget by the state Legislature. The construction in Lincoln Hall, much like the construction at nearby Shattuck Hall, will take place over two years in the near future if the Legislature passes the budget that gave PSU over $90 million in capital construction.
Gov. gives $29 million for Lincoln Hall seismic work
Portland State’s first building, Lincoln Hall, will receive $29 million in deferred maintenance work because of the seismic instability of the building, pending approval of the governor’s budget by the state Legislature.
The construction in Lincoln Hall, much like the construction at nearby Shattuck Hall, will take place over two years in the near future if the Legislature passes the budget that gave PSU over $90 million in capital construction. Like the architecture program that was moved out of Shattuck Hall at the beginning of winter term, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, currently in Lincoln Hall, will be forced into an interim location.
Lincoln Hall, the 95-year-old former Lincoln High School, was acquired by PSU in 1949 and is considered a seismic hazard. The $29 million will be paid through XI-F bonds, loans from the state for deferred maintenance.
“After a while, you put these things off so far that the cost escalates,” said Robyn Pierce, facilities director at PSU. She said that the cost of maintaining the buildings sometimes outweighs the cost of demolition and rebuilding.
Barbara Sestak, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, said the move will likely take place during the summer of 2009. Though still in the future, the programs will be displaced for two years when construction starts.
“It’s going to be a real logistical problem,” said Bryan Johanson, chair of the music department. Lincoln Hall is home to Portland State’s only theaters, and the music and theater departments have already taken field trips to look at possible venues due to the high demand of theaters and performance halls in the Portland area.
Originally, due to safety issues, Lincoln Hall was to be torn down when it was acquired in 1949, but PSU decided to keep the building. As building codes keep changing and new seismic safety features are developed, renovations made in the past are no longer up to date with new codes, including support to ensure safety during earthquakes.
The music department is concerned about what will become of the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of instruments stored in Lincoln Hall. The department has over 80 pianos, and there are 20 practice rooms in Lincoln Hall. The practice rooms are specially set up for use by musicians.
“Each of the rooms has very specific needs,” Johanson said. “It makes them difficult to share them with anyone.”
Each faculty office also serves as a teaching studio. Walking through the white-stone and gold-detailed halls of the old high school, one can often hear the faint sound of a piano or a saxophone drifting from a far-off room.
The music department has faced a few issues since it moved from Cramer Hall in the 1980s. Johanson said that one of the biggest problems was sound bleeding.
The music department has tried to be resourceful in developing the hall to their purposes by changing closets into practice rooms. Johanson said he hopes that attention will be paid to acoustics for a new or renovated building.
“There’s no way you can have two tubas in a room like this,” Johanson said. He added that all the rooms would need to be close together, so students can run to their instrument lockers to get necessary equipment for practice.
Sarah Andrews-Collier, chair of the theater department, said her department has similar problems. They have many studios, a costume shop, a building shop and paint shop. All would need to be in proximity of each other.
“The biggest issue here is how to retain a quality experience for students while this is going on,” Andrews-Collier said.
This spring or summer an assessment will be done, addressing the top priorities of the building and the different departments. One of Sestak’s jobs will be fundraising, and she said she hopes to raise enough money to pay for improvements, because the governor’s budget will only pay for deferred maintenance.
The theater department also could see an improved or newly built theater. Andrews-Collier said one idea would be adding a thrust theater, with a stage that extends out into the seating area so the audience is on three sides.
There have been some rumors that Lincoln Hall might have to be torn down, which Sestak said is a possibility. She said that the Oregon University System has done an early study that says Lincoln Hall can be restored rather than razed.
“This building means so much to PSU that we don’t want to lose the history of Portland State,” Sestak said. “We want to respect the building. We truly want to make it a state-of-the-art performance hall.”