Construction of new academic building to begin this summer

By Rachel Rippetoe | March 20, 2017 8:28am

Photos courtesy of UP Marketing.

The University of Portland is set to have a new academic building on the site of Howard Hall next year, with construction scheduled to begin late this summer.

At the annual State of UP luncheon last Tuesday, University President Fr. Mark Poorman officially unveiled the plans for Dundon-Berchtold Hall, a $30 million, three-story academic building that will house 18 classrooms, 25 offices, a 150-seat auditorium (slightly smaller than BC auditorium) and UP’s Career Center.

But Vice President of University Operations Jim Ravelli said he doesn’t have a concrete timeline on when the building will be completed because funding has yet to be finalized. Last September, Board of Regents members Amy Dundon-Berchtold and Jim Berchtold ('63) awarded the lead gift of $15 million for the building and for the formation of the Dundon-Berchtold Institute for Moral Formation and Applied Ethics, which will be housed in the building.

But the University still has to come up with the other $15 million.

“It’s all funding-dependent. Nothing gets done until funding is final,” Ravelli said. “We’re expecting funding to kind of move along so I would expect that if things go as planned, we would hope to begin to do some major work on the building this fall.”

According Ravelli, the demolition of Howard Hall will begin early this summer and the construction of the new 63,000 sq. ft. building will likely result in the loss of some of the sequoia trees currently lining Howard Hall.

However, Ravelli said he is confident the University will be able to save many of the trees through the process of construction.

“We’re pretty confident that we’re going to be able to have many of those trees remain where they are,” Ravelli said. “It’s likely that there will be some that will have to go. There was one plan that showed all of them going which we didn’t much care for, so we think we’re going to be in much better shape.”

Ravelli said the University consulted with an arborist and found that although the root balls of the trees were intertwined in some places — something Environmental Department Chair Steve Kolmes warned could cause a chain effect if one tree gets cut down— many are strong enough to survive construction.

“The arborist was pretty clear that the trees are relatively resilient,” Ravelli said.

Previously, Ravelli said if some sequoia trees have to come down, the University would respond with “remediation,” meaning they would plant a tree of equal size and width to the sequoias somewhere on campus to combat any environmental loss.

The new hall is a welcome addition to a growing campus struggling with space — the undergraduate student body has grown from 3,211 in 2010 to 3,697 in 2015. All the classrooms will hold a minimum of 40 students. Many will be tiered classrooms and others will have sinks and drainboards suitable for science classes.

According to Provost Thomas Greene, there are no plans to house a particular department or college in the building. Just as in Buckley Center and Franz Hall, courses of a variety of disciplines will be taught in the new classrooms.

The Career Center will also be migrating into the new building from its previous home in Orrico Hall. Ravelli said the new location will allow for more interview and meeting space.

“I can imagine no better place for our students to engage in their education and to seek answers to core questions than our new academic center,” Poorman said at the State of UP event. The new center will “take the University of Portland to new heights and deeply impact our students’ experiences for generations to come.”