Groundbreaking ceremony launches $104 million education and civic center at PSU
Author: John Kirkland, PSU Media and Public Relations
Posted: January 9, 2019
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland-area college presidents hold groundbreaking ceremony for $104 million education and civic center at PSU.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the presidents of PSU, OHSU and PCC launched the construction of a $104 million civic, education and health center at Portland State University during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday on PSU’s campus.

The seven-story Fourth and Montgomery Building is slated for completion in fall 2020 at SW 4th Ave. and S.W. Montgomery St., a former parking lot in the middle of campus donated by Prosper Portland for the project.

The building project is a partnership between PSU, the City of Portland, OHSU and Portland Community College. It will house the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, PSU’s College of Education, PCC’s dental hygiene and dental assisting programs, and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

At 175,000 square feet, the building will also have a dental clinic and low-cost mental health services for the public, and will feature ground-floor retail and restaurants. 

Mayor Ted Wheeler characterized the project as vital to Oregon higher education and an unprecedented collaboration between the city and Portland’s three public higher education institutions. 

“This is unlike any other partnership that I have been engaged in,” Wheeler said. “(This project) will connect workforce development, educational and economic opportunity, and it’s going to serve all Portlanders.”

Wheeler added that the unique partnership between the four entities will serve as a template for future partnerships to spur economic opportunity for Portland.
PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi said he was excited about having a permanent home for the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, saying that it “exemplifies our universities’ dedication to equity and providing opportunities, hands-on learning and research.”

OSHU President Danny Jacobs agreed, saying “We have to train our future providers differently. Now it’s more important than ever. Our School of Public Health needs a home, and here we are.”

PCC President Mark Mitsui noted that part of the funding comes from voter-approved bonds. “This project is an example of how local investment in higher education can open doors and create incredible opportunities,” he said.

The project is backed by $51 million in state bonds, approved by Gov. Kate Brown in 2017. Besides state bonds, the building will be financed jointly from PSU, OHSU, PCC and the City of Portland. Additionally, education advocates and philanthropists Christine and David Vernier donated $1 million to the College of Education to create a fully equipped STEM training classroom in the new building.

The Fourth and Montgomery Building will be located across the street from PSU’s Academic and Student Recreation Center. 

Education occupants of the new building:
OHSU-PSU School of Public Health was created in July 2016 to educate the next generation of public health leaders to confront and combat the underlying causes of health disparity throughout Oregon. The school is currently housed in multiple locations at PSU and OHSU and has enrolled more than 1,200 undergraduates and 250 graduate students pursuing degrees in 16 public health programs. 

PSU’s College of Education prepares more K-12 teachers, administrators and educators in Oregon than any other institution in the state. The school also trains mental health counselors and houses a community counseling clinic that provides low-cost mental health services to more than 1,100 people a year. It has been located in temporary space since the School of Business Administration renovation and expansion began three years ago. 

PCC’s dental programs and dental clinic will move from the Sylvania Campus to the third floor of the Fourth and Montgomery building. Relocating are Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene, both high-demand specialties. Between these two disciplines, PCC is capable of educating more than 100 students annually. Its dental clinic serves as a teaching facility for students and offers low-cost oral healthcare services to about 2,000 patients a year. 


Top: (From left) PCC President Mark Mitsui, PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi; OHSU President Danny Jacobs, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, and philanthropist Christine Vernier at Friday's groundbreaking. Photo by Peter Simon.

Bottom: Rendering of the future Fourth and Montgomery Building.