Time to flip that ‘berger

Philanthropists gift final $10 million needed for overdue Neuberger Hall renovation

The well-worn Neuberger Hall, built in 1961 as South Park Hall, will finally be getting a long-awaited facelift. In a press conference on July 6, outgoing PSU President Wim Wiewel announced a $5 million contribution from philanthropist and PSU alum Fariborz Maseeh, filling the last gap in funding for the capital project.

Hacker Architects, the firm that designed the PSU Urban Center and Plaza, is undertaking the design project. Fortis Construction will be building the project.

“A modern Neuberger Hall is critical in helping students and faculty enhance learning and achieve academic success,” Maseeh said. “We don’t make gifts; we make philanthropic investments. Portland State is one of Oregon’s most important institutions to educate and inspire tomorrow’s leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.”

Maseeh’s contribution, alongside Jordan Schnitzer’s ambitious artistic endeavor and other vital funding streams, bring the Neuberger Hall renovation out of the fundraising stages and into the planning stages. Construction itself will take place from January 2018 to September 2019.

Offices and classrooms currently located within Neuberger Hall will be relocated to other locations around campus. According to tentative plans, Student Services, including Financial Aid and the Cashier, will be temporarily moved to trailers just south of Shattuck Hall. Ooligan Press will be temporarily moved from classrooms and faculty offices to trailers at Market and SW 12th.

Tentative relocation plans also have permanent moves in the offing. Among these: Conflict Resolution will be headed to Smith Memorial Student Union; Art + Design’s Printmaking studio heads to Shattuck; Speech and Hearing and the Intensive English Learning Program would head to the University Center Building.

The start of construction on Neuberger’s renovation marks a hopeful turn in the somewhat torturous path in upgrading the steadily deteriorating building. Vanguard coverage from 2011 noted a then-ambitious $83 million plan to upgrade the building, citing complaints from one building employee noting issues in temperature control, among others.

Another essential project included in the renovation is the removal of asbestos.

A 2005 Vanguard story by Sue Pesznecker highlighted the temporary closure of Neuberger 407 after workers tapped into asbestos when installing audio-visual lines, and other stories in the Vanguard archives link the hazardous substance to Neuberger. A 2010 Vanguard article highlighting a capital project proposal that would have taken care of the asbestos problem in Neuberger Hall also refers to the School of Business Administration, a project that managed to raise money and is now nearing completion as the Karl Miller Center.

With funding in hand these long-awaited plans for Neuberger can proceed.

“I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s such an important project for the university,” said Robyn Pierce, then-director of Facilities and Planning, to the Vanguard in 2011.