Inside the almost-finished Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and several Beaverton public officials marveled at the fir timber wall panels as they imagined how the sunlit lobby will look filled with public art.
The unusual panels are meant to mimic the outside of a beaver's dam, executive director Chris Ayzoukian told Bonamici and others as they walked inside the 550-seat theater.
The theater is modeled after the inside of a beaver's home, with back-lit wood panels positioned along the wall and ceiling.
Construction on the building, located just a short walk from the Beaverton Central MAX Station on Southwest Cedar Hills and Halls boulevards, began in 2019. The center, now 85% complete, will be open to the public in March 2022, Ayzoukian said.
"It took a long time to build the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, and it took a lot of people to bring it to where it is today," he said. "So, we are thrilled that we're on the verge of opening next spring, and to realize this dream for the community and for the Westside."
Bonamici said she was "thrilled" to be standing inside something that has, for years, been talked about with growing enthusiasm in Beaverton.
"This is going to be a wonderful addition to the community here, not just for Beaverton, but for the whole area," she said. "It's a remarkable accomplishment for the city and for the arts, and I'm very excited for the potential."
Ayzoukian is still mum on who is booked to perform for the spring season, but there are other aspects of the building he can't rave enough about.
As Pat Reser herself told Pamplin Media Group last month, the center will be much more than just a venue.
The ground floor will feature a gallery of Pacific Northwest artists, while an upstairs all-purpose room will be used for just about anything from specialty classes to high-top table comedy nights.
During the day, the center will serve as a community space, where neighbors can sit in the lobby and socialize or sip coffee. At night, the Reser Center will host a number of events, from live performances, to art exhibits to local gatherings.
The $51 million project got nearly half its funding from fundraisers and donations, including from Reser, who has been involved in the project from the get-go.
She told Pamplin Media Group last month that she wants the center to be "for everyone."
"(Arts) should never just be a privilege," she said.
Ayzoukian said during the planning stages, the intent was always to make sure the project wouldn't be a "cookie-cutter" arts center.
"While we'll have plenty of entertainment, we want to also reflect what this community is talking about and the essence of the community," he said. "Beaverton is known as the most culturally diverse city in Oregon, and there's so much to explore here with different communities, and that takes time listening to those communities."
With most of the hard work finished, Ayzoukian said the biggest challenge ahead is just "getting through the pandemic."
Bonamici said she hopes the arts center will inspire Westside residents to appreciate their community.
"That's a real key part of this as well, is to make sure that everyone in the community is welcome here and will benefit from the programs, the art and the space," she said. "It's all part of their wonderful community here in Beaverton."
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