Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

A moving story at Rock Creek’s Building 5

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RC-B5-2823_webBy Katherine Miller
Jan. 8, 2016

Nearly 150 staffers are busy settling into their spaces in the expansive new addition created at PCC Rock Creek’s Building 5, marking the completion of that campus’ biggest project funded by the 2008 voter-approved bond measure.

Staff and faculty for the Social Sciences, Communication and Health Division, plus the Associated Students of Portland Community College (ASPCC), Queer Resource Center, the Information Desk, and food service, packed up and moved in short order during the break between fall and winter terms.  The bookstore moves in just after the start of winter term.

For the campus and PCC’s Bond Program, it was a mammoth undertaking that required the coordination and cooperation of numerous stakeholders.

But leading up to the moving, were months of work to complete the building’s interior spaces, finishes and furnishings. Jody Giffin, a project specialist for the bond, was responsible for determining the needs of Building 5’s users and how those translated into furniture and interior design.

“We had Bainbridge Design help us quite a bit. They know what PCC’s standards and palette are, and they put together proposed furniture, fabrics and finishes,” she said. “I met with them to review the plans and either change things or approve them.”

Those plans included ordering hundreds of chairs and tables for offices, dining areas and classrooms, as well as additional seating and tables for the large second floor lounge, which includes large “anchor” pieces that are fixed in place and serve to tie the area’s architectural elements together.

“The new addition creates a lively statement at the gateway to the campus,” said Giffin. “The first thing that people see as they enter the campus is the two-story glass box with colorful lounge furniture.  It is intended to be a dynamic space and a great way to see student activity at the entry point to the campus.”

Although bond work at Sylvania’s College Center has been larger in scope, Giffin explained that those improvements have been done in phases, whereas the Building 5 project came together in one big push.

Meanwhile, Zahava Jones, project manager for Rock Creek, was busy working with faculty and staff to prepare for moving into B5 from other campus buildings, with the help of local firm Lancaster Logistics.

“A lot of people were in B3, so we went through a series of meetings and talked about details, purging existing items that didn’t need to move over to the new building,” she said. “We described what is in the new building, so there was a certain level of comfort in terms of furniture and space in general.”

In order to minimize disruption to college work, boxes of the staff’s office belongings were transferred to B5 one group at a time, over just one day each for each group. The campus’ Technology Solutions Services department (TSS) was responsible for the technical side.

“TSS has a pretty big scope. They’re hooking up phones, computers and printers, and getting the network running,” said Jones. “So it’s really important that the building’s systems are all working well so the networks can speak to each other.”

“It’s pretty complicated in terms of how many people are involved in preparing for a move and how many things have to go right,” she added. “We typically tell people they’re going to be down on move day, and that they’re going to be reconnected and up and running the next day.”

Although there are just 20 people who work on the first floor, Jones said that their needs demanded careful coordination. Food service has a large amount of equipment and dry goods to be stored, and the bookstore has its stock.

The ambitious pace of constructing Building 5’s addition – and the number of people who have moved into it – made for a challenging project, she said. However, “It’s been a very smooth move. We’ve had plenty of time to communicate and plan.”

Narce Rodriguez, Rock Creek’s dean of student development, confirmed that the transition has worked smoothly.

“It hasn’t felt challenging at all,” she said. “The guiding principle we started with really provided us with a framework to be able to assure that all the neighboring spaces in Building 5 were able to connect with each other in a true manner. This guiding principle of connectivity was important for the whole campus, including administration, students and committee members. And it took a long time, but I’m really excited because our vision is coming true.”

Rodriguez also lauded the building for being a student-focused hub that provides a “home away from home,” as well as an environment conducive to learning. “We’ve never had an entrance to the campus, so Building 5 is really providing an entrance that welcomes all who want to come to PCC, and promotes the college as really caring for its students,” she said. “They have everything really accessible to them – from study areas to student government, information desk, a lactation room, even a meditation room.”

The new construction is important component of the project, added Jones. “It’s a really exciting space. It’s very warm and still modern. It says PCC cares about students.”

“But it also gave us the opportunity to improve other areas on campus. It opens up pockets in B3 for better art education spaces, and an opportunity to create a better testing space in B9. It’s a win every way you look at it.”

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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