The State Board of Higher Education recently approved capital construction project requests for two Portland State buildings totaling over $100 million. The intended projects would allow upgrades to plumbing and electrical systems in Neuberger Hall and an expansion of the School of Business.
On July 9, the board met to discuss and approve its biennial budget proposal and to decide what capital construction projects to put forward for consideration. The board decided to ask the state for $83 million for improvements to Neuberger Hall and $35 million for additions and renovations to the School of Business.
The proposal for funds will go to the governor, who decides whether or not to include the request in the gubernatorial budget proposal to the legislature during its 2011 session. However, if the projects are approved, the money needed for them must be obtained through the selling of bonds, which could not be done until the 2013 legislative session, said Assistant Vice Chancellor Robert Simonton, who oversees capital programs for the Oregon University System.
Neuberger Hall, built in phases between 1960 and 1966, houses the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Student Affairs and Business Affairs. Since its completion, only minor repairs and cosmetic improvements have been made to the structure.
Through major repairs to its facilities, the university hopes to improve the building’s energy efficiency and to increase the usability of its spaces for the academic departments within the building, according to the project summaries submitted to the State Board by PSU.
Some of the proposed work projects would include the removal of asbestos, improvements to the building’s ability to withstand a seismic event, the installation of new HVAC and plumbing systems, updates to the electrical and information technology systems and improvements to the fire safety systems.
Other improvements would include consolidation of departments and classrooms and updates to academic and work spaces.
School of Business
The School of Business Administration, on Southwest Broadway Street across from Smith Memorial Student Union, was built in 1987. It is adjoined to the Graduate School of Education building to its west, which was originally built in 1981.
The Business Administration building primarily contains offices, conference rooms, classrooms and associated support facilities. It currently serves nearly 3,800 undergraduate and 475 graduate students.
This project would build a new addition to the north end of the building, creating an expanded home for the School of Business Administration, according to the project summary.
Initially, the plans were to build a new building and later were to purchase an existing facility. However, in the state of Oregon, the university would have to come up with 50 percent matching funds—primarily through donations—to construct a new building.
“The cost is fairly close to [the] cost of a new building, so that’s the stumbling block,” Simonton said. “With new projects you have to come up with a matching funds, mostly the form of gifts.”