Science Building 2: one year from completion

Science Building 2, constructed in 1969, is getting a makeover and safety upgrades, nearly 41 years later.

Science Building 2, constructed in 1969, is getting a makeover and safety upgrades, nearly 41 years later.

Although there was nothing inherently wrong with the structure, located at 1719 SW 10th Ave., at the time it was built, required safety measures have increased over the years. The remodel will upgrade the structure to meet 21st-century building requirements, and provide a couple of aesthetic updates.

Construction for SB2 began September 2009, and is scheduled to continue into March 2011, according to Project Manager Mark Fujii of Facilities and Planning.

“Much has been learned over the past four decades about a building’s behavior during a seismic event and Science Building 2 is being upgraded to withstand modern seismic codes,” said Fujii, who has been working on this project for about three years.

In addition to stabilizing the infrastructure, this remodel will replace old mechanical systems that have been in the building since 1969. Electrical, plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades will also be included. All of these will be updated with more energy-efficient systems in mind, according to Fujii.

The remodel will include other improvements, such as expanding and updating the labs and teaching spaces, and a hazardous waste facility will be built to service the entire campus.

“Currently, PSU does not have a centralized location to handle hazardous waste that is generated in laboratories, as required by modern codes,” Fujii said. “The new structure on the southwest corner of Science Building 2 will house the new hazardous waste facility for the PSU campus and also house the building’s chemical stores.”

The new facility is being funded by Oregon stimulus money.

The Portland State Web site estimates that $26.3 million was allowed by state deferred-maintenance funds to pay for the updates. An additional $19 million came from state general funds, bonds, federal funds and economic stimulus funds.

Fujii also mentioned private donations as a source of money for the remodel.

According to the Finance and Administration Web site, SB2 houses many of the university’s Department of Science offices, including physics, chemistry, biology and civil, environmental and mechanical engineering. It also houses offices for Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Translational Research and Drug Development Institute.

While the building is under construction, it remains open for certain classes. Chemistry, physics, biology and environmental science laboratory classes are still held in SB2. All general classes have been moved to other locations on campus.

In some cases, these labs have moved to other locations in the building that are not currently under construction, or they remain in place while the construction work goes on around them.

 “[Science Building 2 is] nothing out of the ordinary for a construction project of this size in an occupied building,” Fujii said.

The project is currently on schedule, and has had very minimal setbacks, Fujii said.

“The new hazardous waste facility is about 50 percent complete. The seismic upgrade is 80 percent complete. The fourth-floor remodel is 100 percent complete and the east side laboratories and offices on floors one, two and three will be complete at the end of winter term,” Fujii said.

According to the Portland State Web site, the updates were designed by IDC Architects, a division of CH2M HILL.

According to the CH2M HILL Web site (, “IDC Architects works with clients in science, technology and traditional industries to design buildings and interiors. Our approach is structured to rigorously address functional, spatial, technical and aesthetic issues with clients, consistent with the character of their environment and the nature of their work.”

Hoffman Construction Company, which has been active in Portland since 1922, heads the construction management.