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Building Into the Future, The School Of Business at PSU Raises the Bar on Design, Community Building in the Heart of the City
Author: Jenna Cooper, The School of Business
Posted: September 18, 2017

Karl Miller Center Building — On the Eve of Completion — Reflects Innovation and Relationship with Portland

The city of Portland is enjoying a revival of sorts, with more than a million people expected to move to the area in the next ten years. The School of Business at Portland State University  — while already a highly respected, accredited institution — is poised for its own renaissance: a thriving institution for innovating learning in the core of downtown Portland. 

“The design of the building is truly stunning. The smooth metal exterior underscores the reflective relationship between the Portland business community and the School,” said Cliff Allen, dean of The School of Business. “In addition, the interior design is open and inviting as well as doubling our footprint. This includes the creation of common areas for a student engagement and a greater sense of community.”

Karl Miller Center Conscious Design and Execution

The Karl Miller Center is an iconic, world-class building unlike any other on campus in the Portland market. The project’s key players include PSU; the architectural collaboration of Behnisch Architekten and SRG Partnership; general contractor Skanska USA; and trade partners who all worked together to help the long-standing vision for a business community “home” to take root and grow in the Karl Miller Center.

Achieving LEED Platinum, the highest international rating for building sustainability, has always been the goal for all parties, which underscores the School’s commitment to environmentally responsible education. Sustainable features include passive cooling in the new addition, and many of the strategies were chosen to align with community interests and expectations.

Alaskan Yellow Cedar siding was selected for the exterior of the new addition because it meets the sustainability objectives of the project and is rated by the Forest Stewardship Council.  Advancing the learning environment – the vision of the building to create community and public study spaces – was realized by the unique and open design with work bars and large open spaces. The goal was to provide an environment in which learning happens everywhere and at all times, not just within the classroom.

Funding for the Karl Miller Center 

Not a penny of student money was used for the design or construction of the Karl Miller Center. As much as $24 million came from private donors, and the remainder, $40 million was from state-backed bonds. Rick Miller, a 1991 business alum, and his wife, Erika, made a $9 million gift to help fund the expansion. The building is named for Rick’s grandfather, Karl Miller, a World War II veteran, firefighter and entrepreneur.

Building Specs

  • 143,000 square feet (100,000 sf renovation, 43,000 sf addition), increasing The Business School’s footprint more than 172 percent
  • Twenty-one classrooms – three times more than in the existing building
  • Ten project and team rooms that meet the advanced technological needs of our students
  • Four industry-specific centers to support the diverse interests of our future business leaders
  • A vibrant and active atrium with crisscrossing bridges and stairs, surrounded by study spaces
  • High-quality offices for our award-winning faculty and staff
  • A state-of-the-art LEED Platinum-eligible facility that will continue to attract and serve top talent from around the world
  • Centralized business school activities and classes
  • A suspended tree sculpture of Alaskan Yellow Cedar spans from level 3 up to level 5
  • Five green roofs on the project include two occupied terraces on levels 4 and 5 of the pavilion

Karl Miller Center History

The Karl Miller Center was originally built in two phases between 1979 and 1989. Completion of the second half, then called the Professional Schools Building II (now Business Administration), occurred May 30, 1989. Professional Schools Building I was constructed for the Graduate School of Education in 1979 and retained that name until shortly before the Business Administration building opened. The architectural firm for both halves was Yost-Grube-Hall, although the 1979 structure was designed by an earlier incarnation of the firm, Campbell-Yost-Grube Architects. Starting in 2015, a third addition was begun, and once complete, it will create a new dramatic entrance to the School, activate the building along Sixth Avenue, as well as modernize and upgrade the existing structures.

About The School of Business at Portland State University

The School of Business at Portland State University is renowned for its leading-edge research and world-class faculty. Located in the heart of Portland, Oregon, this urban campus takes a realistic and holistic approach to learning with a focus on sustainability, economic impact and social and environmental stewardship. The School of Business offers eight master’s degrees, seven undergraduate concentrations, four minors and multiple certificate programs, all with real-world applicability. US News & World Report ranks its AACSB-accredited undergraduate and graduate business programs among the best in the nation. The Princeton Review recognizes the School as a “Best College” to major in business. For more information, please visit pdx.edu/sba.

About Skanska USA Building

Skanska’s local operations comprise the Oregon and Southwest Washington regions, and in 2016 had gross revenues of $503 million. The combined Oregon and Washington gross revenues total $955 million.

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, education, sports, data centers, government, aviation and commercial.  Headquartered in New York with offices in 31 metro areas, we have more than 10,000 employees committed to being leaders in safety, project execution, sustainability, ethics and people development. In 2016, our work in building construction, civil and power/industrial construction, commercial development and infrastructure development (public-private partnerships) generated $6.8 billion in revenue.  Global revenue of parent company Skanska AB, headquartered in Stockholm and listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, totaled $17.7 billion in 2016. Skanska shares are publicly traded in the U.S. on the OTC market under the symbol SKBSY through a Level I American Depository Receipt program.   

About SRG

SRG Partnership, Inc. is an award-winning design firm providing full services in programming, planning, architecture and interior design from offices in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1972, SRG is nationally recognized for its research-based design and innovation in sustainability; the firm was named one of the top 10 sustainable design practices in the country by Architect magazine. SRG’s focus on human-centered design is embodied in projects spanning higher education, science & technology, civic and cultural, athletic facilities and health care. 

About Behnisch Architekten

Founded in 1989, Behnisch Architekten is an award-winning, internationally recognized cross-disciplinary architecture firm. From the beginning, the social dimension of architecture has been a fundamental aspect of the firm’s design philosophy. Behnisch Architekten’s search for innovative and sustainable solutions while making optimum use of natural resources has produced a rich variety of buildings, each of which responds to specific user requirements and site conditions. 

Projects in progress include the University of Baltimore’s Langsdale Library in Baltimore and Portland State University’s School of Business Administration in Portland, Oregon. Recently completed projects include the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) administrative building and conference hall in Geneva, and the City of Santa Monica Parking Structure #6. Behnisch Architekten has offices in Stuttgart and Munich, Germany; and in Boston, Massachusetts. The firm’s projects are widely published and exhibited worldwide, and its staff members are actively engaged in architectural education and are regular lecturers at top universities and conferences. Find more information, please visit Behnisch.com.  

Contact Jenna Cooper at jennac@pdx.edu.