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PNCA starts transformation

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO JONATHAN HOUSE - Renovation progress is everywhere as PNCA Director of Communications & Public Programs Becca Biggs, left, talks with Director of Institutional Research Gus Baum in 511 Federal Building.The Pacific Northwest College of Art has begun work on its largest and most expensive project ever, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design.

The $32 million project will transform the historic 511 Federal Building into an advanced arts education and public exhibition space. Workers are removing drop ceilings, outdated heating and cooling systems, and facades installed in the building at 511 N.W. Broadway after it opened in 1919.

The project is scheduled to be completed in January 2015 and contribute to the revitalization of the city’s North Park Blocks. PNCA already owns and operates the Museum of Contemporary Craft there and opened a new student residence, ArtHouse, last year.

“With its location in the heart of Portland’s thriving creative district, our new campus allows us to greatly expand our ability to deliver the kind of innovative education our students need for the 21st century,” says PNCA President Tom Manley. “Our students will activate the North Park Blocks and create a new focal point for creative entrepreneurship.”

Mayor Charlie Hales welcomes the project. “We expect PNCA to do for the city’s North Park Blocks what PSU’s expansion has done for the South Park Blocks,” he says. “We are proud to be a part of PNCA’s vision for expansion and revitalization — not just of the old post office, but also the surrounding neighborhoods and the community where its students live.”

Architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture created the plans for adaptive reuse that will preserve key historical features of the 134,000-square-foot building, such as the ground floor foyer, while introducing contemporary design elements to the light-filled core of the building. The completed project will include new areas for public programs and arts education, with spaces for art exhibitions, lectures, and events, in addition to classrooms, production facilities, an elegant library, and innovation studio and incubator. Some upper floor offices will feature 360-degree views.

The project is funded from a variety of sources. They include a $15 million philanthropic campaign, Creativity Works Here, led by honorary co-chairs Arlene Schnitzer and Dorothy Lemelson. It was launched 18 months ago with a lead gift from PNCA alumna Arlene Schnitzer to name the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO JONATHAN HOUSE - Workers are removing false ceilings and aging heating and cooling system as work continues on the coming Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design.The Portland Development Commission is providing a $740,000 grant for project planning and design, and $20.3 million in bridge and long-term financing. Other major commitments include: $1 million from Dorothy Lemelson to establish the Dorothy Lemelson Innovation Studio; $1 million from Al Solheim to name the Solheim Library; $500,000 from the William G. Gilmore Foundation, Mary Lee Boklund, president; $500,000 from the estate of Ernest Swigert in honor of past PNCA President Sally Lawrence; $400,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust; $350,000 from The Collins Foundation; $350,000 from Maribeth Collins; and $300,000 from the Swigert-Warren Foundation.

“We are extremely grateful to the Portland community and the many supporters who have helped us turn a seven-year dream into a reality,” Manley says.

PNCA acquired the 511 Federal Building from the federal government in 2008 on a long-term lease for $1, after it was declared surplus because of seismic and safety concerns. The college is selling its existing 40,000-square-foot headquarters in the Pearl District to a Seattle developer for $11.5 million.