New rec center to include administration offices

Some time in this decade, Portland State President DanielBernstine will be sharing a building with sweaty students workingout in the new student recreation center.

That’s the current scenario for the new building to be built onthe site of the present Portland Center for Advanced Technologybuilding at Southwest Sixth Avenue and Montgomery Street. Presentplans call for student building money to pay for the rec centerportion and the administration to pay for moving mostadministrative offices there, including that of the universitypresident.

The PCAT site finds agreement from student leaders. ChristyHarper, ASPSU president and longtime advocate for the student reccenter, affirmed her approval.

“It puts it in a more central place on the campus,” she said.”It’s the most high-traffic area on campus and has greatvisibility.”

When students voted on the center last spring, the preferredsite had been east of the Helen Gordon Center at 1609 S.W. 12thAve. About six weeks ago, the administration suggested the PCATsite and student leaders bought into it. In Harper’s view there wasno implication that the 12th Avenue site was set in stone.

OPSIS architectural consulting firm of Portland won thepreliminary study job over two other applicants. Mike Irish,director of facilities, said the OPSIS firm will conduct aneconomic feasibility study for the PCAP site.

“They will study what we have to do on that site, the best wayto do it,” he said. The OPSIS study is expected to be complete byFebruary. The next step will be requests for proposals to do theactual construction. As to when construction may begin, theuniversity will have to wait on action by the next statelegislature.

The OPSIS proposal outlines the scope of the preliminary work.The building is visualized at about seven stories.

“We don’t want to go higher than the Urban Center buildings,”Irish said. There would be about 130,000 square feet of studentrecreation center and 40,000 square feet of underground parking. Acommercial tenant would occupy about 15,000 square feet of groundfloor space. This tenant would probably be a brewpub, restaurant orother high-occupancy tenant.

Another tenant, possibly the U.S. Geological Survey, wouldoccupy 40,000 square feet. The university administrative officeswould include the president, the provost, the office of finance andadministration, and other offices to be designated.

“Parking pays for itself,” Irish said. “Retail pays for thestreet level floor. “The government tenant will take an entirefloor. The administrative offices will be state money.”

The former tentative site plan showed housing on top of the reccenter portion. However, according to Robyn Pierce, associatedirector of facilities, restrictions by the Portland DevelopmentCommission require that any new housing at this time be located atthe University Place property at Southwest Fourth Avenue andLincoln Street.

The administrative offices in the new building will likely go ontop of the rec center.

“It doesn’t make sense to put the administrative offices belowthe rec center,” Pierce said.

Both Irish and Pierce pointed out that the new building willcomplete the Urban Plaza concept. The plaza is currently consideredincomplete on its south side. Pierce also explained that the newbuilding will have a stepped-down series of elevations, so thebuilding does not throw Sixth Avenue into shadow.

Alex Acetta, coordinator and adviser for campus recreation, saidhe and Harper were approached by the administration to discuss theproposed change of location to the PCAT site from the 12th Avenuesite and they approved. Some students had objected to that site onenvironmental grounds. That site has some old trees and also wouldrequire moving the Honors College building and tearing down anotherunused building.

Acetta said there is an oversight committee to follow theproject all the way and it includes students. He and Harper will beon the committee. Others currently include Tirsa Forncock, adancer, and Celyn Brown, a disability advocacy representative. Morestudents may be added.

The administration will be represented by Irish or Pierce, CathyDyck, interim vice president for finance and administration, ErnestTipton, campus design and planning manager, and Cassie McVeety,vice president for university relations.