Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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Check out the changes soon to come to PCC Cascade’s Library

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Rendering of remodeled Library at PCC Cascade.

As seen in this rendering of the remodeled Library at PCC Cascade, the north side of the building will become the new entry.

June 9, 2015

Libraries are quiet spaces, but starting next month the Library at PCC Cascade will be full of noise and activity as improvements funded by the 2008 bond measure take shape there.

At the end of spring term the Library will be closed to students and library services temporarily shifted to Terrell Hall 116. In July, the adjacent Student Center will be demolished by Hoffman Construction, after which remodeling on the Library and construction of a new plaza will begin.

The improvements — designed by THA Architecture — are scheduled to be completed in 2016 and will include new bathrooms on both floors, a new computer classroom on the second floor, and a balcony overlooking the new common space below. The entry will be refined and moved to the north side of the building.

In addition, areas will be identified for group study, including some that can be reserved. New reference and circulation desks will be added, as well as a new computer bar. New lighting will be installed, along with acoustical treatments to help quiet the study space.

There were several reasons behind the decision to demolish Student Center and build the new Student Union, which opened in January and together with the new academic building, Cascade Hall, expanded the west end of campus.

“The (old) building had an outdated infrastructure and it was difficult to keep it running given the equipment we had to use,” said Rebecca Ocken, project manager for the Bond Program at Cascade. “Our student union was down in the basement and it was unacceptable for what they were trying to do. They had very little space … and it was hindering their program implementation.”

Nick Hodges, senior associate with THA, added that the classrooms on the third floor and the offices in the basement were not adaptable in a way that would allow a student union to function effectively.

“These spaces also lacked visibility, which was critical to the student programs’ effectiveness to promote themselves — programming would always be compromised,” he said.

“Student unions also function more effectively when they are not co-located with academic functions. A purpose of a student union is to provide a place for collaboration and interaction outside of the classroom, where students can expand learning opportunities through casual interaction with their peers.”

Hodges also explained that the old Student Center had deferred maintenance, and that replacing it with a plaza expands the campus mall to connect with the new plaza that was constructed between Student Union and Cascade Hall. After the work is complete, the mall will extend from North Mississippi to Commercial avenues and, says Hodge, reinforce the “historic city grid.”

The exterior of the existing Library is more formal than most buildings on campus, something that Hodges said “was important to respect.”

“Our approach was to create a very simple addition with good proportions and a material palette that is complementary to the existing building,” he explained. “We also use materials and site elements in the plaza that respond to the new plaza built to the west.”

For Hodges, THA’s most significant challenge has been “addressing the 5-foot grade change between the existing Library and the surrounding site.”

“It was important for everyone involved that the new plaza provide for an easy and universally accessible transition into the Library.” he said.

PCC’s 2008 voter-approved $374 million bond program is increasing opportunities for residents to access quality, affordable higher education close to where they live and work. Additional classrooms, updated equipment and technology, and advanced workforce training programs are helping to pave the way for future employment options. For more information, visit www.pcc.edu/about/bond/about.


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