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Steel pilings are sprouting inside a chain link fence in Portland's South Waterfront District.
There, by 2013, classrooms will host Portland State University pre-med, pre-nursing, nutrition and pre-dentistry students -- with other universities to come. A long-planned joint project of Oregon Health & Science University and the Oregon University System is becoming real on the north end of the district. It will be the first on 20 acres donated by the Schnitzer family to OHSU in 2004.
Construction began in October on an educational and research facility as well as a 12-story tower, as the project design moves toward city approval. "We're on a fast track," says Mark Williams, who oversees the project for OHSU, "so we're doing everything at once."
The project is all about multitasking. In 2008, OHSU was unable to fund the Schnitzer campus on its own. So OUS joined in, based on the promise of space for PSU and Oregon State University in the life sciences building. PSU plans to move in by fall 2013, and the other programs the following year.
To save money, OHSU pushed up the timing of its tower, which will house part of its dentistry school, says David Robinson, OHSU's executive vice provost. "You've got cranes, you've got permits: It was an opportunity we didn't want to pass up."
The entire project is expected to be 650,000 square feet, according to city senior planner Kara Fioravanti. However, details are being changed because of unexpected costs, and it's unclear whether that size will change.
"There needed to be some modifications that would allow us to stay within budget," said Mark Zabriskie, dean of the OSU College of Pharmacy, who sits on the steering committee guiding the project. "We are doing everything we can to maintain the program and not cut anything back."
He and Williams said the changes are routine. However, the city was recently notified that a Dec. 15 hearing at the city Design Commission may need to be delayed.
The life sciences building has a $160 million price tag, supported by $110 million in state bonds, $10 million from TriMet, and a $40 million gift from an anonymous donor. The $135 million Skourtes Tower will be funded by donations and OHSU, Robinson said.