Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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New courtyard for Rock Creek requires temporary detour for pedestrians

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  • At the start of summer term 2015,  the courtyard at Rock Creek's Building 7 featured three sculptures.
  • After the sculptures were moved, the existing path and landscaping were removed.
  • Next, wooden frames were built around each sculpture to protect them during the move to temporary storage.
  • Workers painstakingly moved each sculpture using a forklift.
  • Improvements to the courtyard first required protecting the established trees that are being incorporated into the new design.
  • While the new courtyard is being constructed, students and staff are asked to use alternate entrances.

The final project for Rock Creek’s innovative Building 7 is one step closer to completion as construction began this week on a new courtyard for the west side entrance. From now until the end of the month, the building can only be accessed from the north, south and east doors.

The project — funded in part by the 2008 voter-approved bond measure — began earlier this year with a “living lab” assignment for second-year students in a Landscape Design Process class. Landscape Technology instructor Marilyn Alexander organized her 13 students into four groups and challenged them to create a plan to refurbish the aging entrance. Later, the winning design was chosen by a committee from the campus community.

The next step was to move the courtyard’s three bronze sculptures (by Northwest artist Frank Boyden) into temporary storage. The delicate job was done by Cook Brothers Omnia, a Portland firm that has done several art installations for Rock Creek Campus.

According to co-owner Silas Cook, it was time-consuming, painstaking work. First, a protective wooden frame was constructed around each sculpture and its base. “Each granite block weighed in excess of 700 pounds; the sculpture itself is another couple hundred pounds. So you’re approaching a thousand pounds of weight,” he said.

Next, a concrete saw was used to cut around the base so that art work could be lifted out of the ground with a forklift. The concrete surrounding the granite bases had to be mechanically removed, and then — because the epoxy that was originally used to secure the base is so strong — Cook had to use heat and a chisel to remove residue from the granite.

The sculptures were then taken by forklift to their temporary storage area in the outdoor childcare play area between Buildings 2 and 3.

Now, with the west entrance blocked off, workers have begun the extensive upgrades, which will include soil excavation and improvement, enhanced drainage and irrigation, and a new wider, thicker concrete pathway. Care is being taken to protect the existing trees that will be retained in the redesigned courtyard.

Finally, new benches will be added and the sculptures reinstalled. In the spring, the new plantings and mulching will be done by students.

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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