The largest academic building in Oregon will swing its doors open Thursday, and officials predict it will dramatically improve the way doctors and other medical professionals are trained in Oregon. It will also upgrade science education for thousands of Portland State University undergraduates.
The 500,000-square-foot Collaborative Life Sciences Building, erected at the end of the new Tilikum Crossing bridge in the South Waterfront, will be used to educate Oregon Health & Science University and PSU students.
The building, with stunning views of the Willamette River, is the new home of the OHSU School of Dentistry. Future dentists will receive classroom training and clinical practice there, including in the building's 12-story Skourtes Tower.
Students and professors from across the spectrum of undergraduate science and graduate medical education will mingle in the five-story general education portion of the building, which has three large lecture halls, dozens of labs, spaces for small-group learning and simulated hospital rooms and treatment areas.
It will bring a radical improvement in medical education, said OHSU Provost Jenny Mladenovic. Instead of being educated in separate buildings by separate faculty members, future dentists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants and radiation therapists will learn together, just as they will be expected to work together on the job. They will train together in laboratories and simulated patient treatment spaces and in some cases will take the same classes from the same professors, she said.
The additional space will also allow OHSU to train 40 more doctors, 25 more pharmacists, 15 more dentists and 10 more physician assistants per year, officials said.
Portland State science students will have access to more modern, better-ventilated labs, will get opportunities to mingle or do research with med students and will learn in lecture halls and collaboration areas equipped with the latest technology, PSU officials say.
Every Portland State freshman majoring in biology, chemistry or physics, and many future engineers will take their first year or two of biology and chemistry in the new building.
PSU has grown from 600 biology majors to 1,200 since 2008 and desperately needs new room, said Jason Podrabsky, chairman of the biology department.
The new building's 400-seat lecture hall is nearly twice as large as the largest one on the PSU campus. And instead of having all 600 introductory biology students do their work in a single laboratory, operating from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every weekday, there will be three modern labs.
"This is going to really change the way we can run things," Podrabsky said.
The building cost $300 million, $110 million of it from taxpayers. Much of the rest was donated to OHSU. It was designed by CO Architects of Los Angeles and took almost three years to build.
An invitation-only grand opening ceremony and building tours are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Employees and students of PSU, OHSU and Oregon State University, which co-runs the state's pharmacy school, can tour the building from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
An open house for the public will be scheduled for fall, said PSU spokeman Scott Gallagher.
OHSU students will begin learning in the building in early July. Portland State students will start there in September.
-- Betsy Hammond