Portland, Oregon-based design firm LEVER Architecture has been selected to design a new space for Portland State University’s School of Art + Design. LEVER was selected from a group of 11 firms competing for the project.
The multiple-award-winning firm, which was recently named the Jury’s Choice winner in the 2022 Wood Design Awards for their work on the Adidas North American Headquarters, has designed an array of innovative projects that also include Meyer Memorial Trust, the Artists Repertory Theater renovation, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. LEVER is known for its use of mass timber as a sustainable building material, its research focus, and its client-centered design approach.
“Portland State is thrilled to be working with LEVER on this important new building for our campus,” said Portland State University President Stephen Percy. “The new home for the School of Art + Design will serve as a beacon for the important role our creative community plays in the Portland region, and for the arts that add so much to the daily lives of our students and employees.”
As Oregon’s largest and most diverse art school, the School of Art + Design’s request for proposals called for an equity-focused design that encompasses the ideals of creativity and social justice. As detailed by Portland State University, the selection process included meetings with faculty and art and design students who shared their hopes and needs for the new building. The importance of creating a space that values and includes students from all backgrounds and identities was emphasized.
In addition to LEVER, a team of specialty consultants will work on the project, including Portland-based landscape architecture firm PLACE and New York-based Once-Future Office, which will create signage and wayfinding, and will also work to integrate art and design into the project from the start.
The new 80,000-square-foot facility will establish a central space for students and faculty who currently operate in several separate locations across campus. It will host collaborative spaces, classrooms, studios for sculpture, printmaking, textile arts, photography, and videography, critique spaces, graphic design labs, art history teaching spaces, and offices.
The $50 million project was approved in 2021, and Portland State University is seeking an additional $27 million in state funds in 2023. This money is being matched with over $5 million in philanthropy, in which $1.84 million in philanthropic support has so far been committed to the project. Design work will begin this spring once the contracting process is complete, with construction set to start in 2023. The building is expected to open in fall 2025.
“My experience at PSU was formative, instilling in me an appreciation not only for art but a true love for Portland,” said Chandra Robinson, principal at LEVER and Portland State University alumna. “I loved the vibrant community of students at PSU, and working with today’s PSU community to create an arts and design center that serves as a new model for equity in the arts, and that uplifts the School and Portland is exactly the kind of project that motivates my work as an architect.”