New academic hall construction expected to finish this June

By Madison Pfeifer | March 12, 2019 7:52pm
A few Beacon staffers got a tour of DB Hall, and can confirm that classes WILL be held in new building next fall! Video by Erica Lavik

White hard hats and neon green vests have become a staple of east quad this year. With major construction projects like Dundon-Berchtold Hall and Franz Campus, construction workers and the noise of their drills have become a daily part of the lives of most UP students.

Dundon-Berchtold Hall is expected to be completed this June, about six months later than the original plan. With its summer completion date, classes for fall 2019 are currently being scheduled in the new academic building. According to Provost and professor of education Thomas Greene, although many College of Arts and Sciences faculty offices will be in the building, “a variety of classes will be held in Dundon-Berchtold Hall.”

When students walked past the construction site in the beginning of fall semester, they saw a steel outline of the building. Now, students can see the distinct exterior walls of the building and even go on a tour inside the academic hall.

“We were just a hole in the ground when school started last August,” said Jim Ravelli, vice president for university operations. “We really just had the foundation, the concrete walls, and you couldn’t see much. Then in September, the steel went up and that really started to define the shape and the size and the mass of the building and then it just kind of took off from there.”

The 65,000 square foot building will have three floors and include faculty offices, student lounge spaces, conference rooms, 17 classrooms and an auditorium named after former editor of UP’s Portland Magazine, Brian Doyle, who died of a brain tumor in May 2017. Classrooms will hold 40 or more students and the auditorium will have seating for 150 and include a plasma display screen that will be used for lectures and performances.

According to Ravelli, the university has not added classroom space to the campus in the last 25 years, even though, at certain times of the day, all classrooms have been filled. With more classes than there are classrooms, the university has been forced to schedule classes late into the evening. 

This serves as a reminder of the constant struggle for space on campus but, according to Ravelli, Dundon-Berchtold Hall will add around 40 percent more classroom space to campus. With the additional space, the university is planning on scheduling more undergraduate classes between 8 a.m and 4 p.m., excluding the three hour 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. classes that exist now. 

Ravelli said that the university does not plan to add more parking to the campus as a result of the new academic building, even though parking has been a concern for students and faculty in recent years.

A large clock will be a prominent feature on the exterior of the building, and what is currently the gravel surrounding the construction site will eventually be grass and have a similar look to the academic quad.

“This building is for all UP Pilots,” Greene said. “I hope everyone will enjoy its beauty and its function. I hope all will appreciate the various styles of classrooms and study lounges and that while on the UP campus, this building will do its part in inspiring us all to wonder and learn.”

Greene said that the building should meet the needs of the UP community for years to come.

“This is a great balance of all kinds of different things,” Ravelli said. “Great classroom spaces, great conference room spaces, generous offices, nice hallways and student spaces. I really like how this entire building is going to serve the campus.”

The east quad has not been the only part of campus undergoing major changes.

The construction of the 35-acre Franz Campus is set to be fully completed in two to three years. As of now, two soccer fields are finished and the facilities are currently being used for intramural and club sports.

The university plans to build a rowing center and boat house, a new physical-plant building, a tennis center and an environmental science lab. 

The university hopes to begin construction on some of the other buildings this summer, but the rest of the projects will depend on city approval and acquiring permits.

Ravelli, who has been at UP for the last 10 years, said he has enjoyed watching the campus develop, especially with the construction of Franz Campus and Dundon-Berchtold Hall.

“When I think about the projects that we’ve done, it’s just been amazing,” Ravelli said. “The Commons, the library, the Pilot House, the Beauchamp Center, Lund Hall, this building, the development of the Franz Campus — just on and on. It’s been fantastic to be here and see the changes that have happened at UP...I think we’ve changed the experience for students here.”

Madison Pfeifer is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at