Intelligent Renovation: Karl Miller Center by Behnisch Architekten
Client: Portland State University
Architect: Behnisch Architekten
Location: 615 SW Harrison Street. Portland, OR 97201 (US)
This educational building is embedded in an urban environment with a block size measuring 60 x 60 metres. It forms part of a compact existing volume located in the southern portion of its parcel and a rather playful structure to the north, which comprises individual parts with various juts and raised areas. Behnisch Architekten have connected this heterogeneous duo with an airy, glazed atrium that simultaneously functions as a component of the ventilation concept.
While the perforated façade of the existing building features a gleaming metal shell, the views of the new tract of the Karl Miller Center are clad with yellowish slats of Alaska cedar. The two façades are brought together by their emphasis on the horizontal. The business school is accessed from the northeast, where an impressive atrium opens up and develops over five storeys. In some places, the floors extend into the empty space in the form of bridges whose colourful undersides enliven the space.
On the ground floor, academic and public uses are found side by side -retail spaces complement classrooms. The upper storeys are organized around dynamic, communal learning zones which are connected to the atrium. Spaces for lectures, faculty offices, business incubators and administration complete the diverse spatial program at the business college. Behnisch Architekten have given the building a modern character with sleek white surfaces, wood and concrete. The individual levels are colour-coded, which facilitates orientation and creates a sense of identity for each area of study.