Construction on campus: Will it ever end?

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Construction for the new Viking Pavilion on a snowy day. Rachel Lara/PSU Vanguard

If you live on campus, you have likely been awoken by the sounds of construction. The constant pounding of jackhammers and grating of backhoes has probably roused you from sleep way sooner than you’d like as you find yourself hoping for one more hour before having to face the day. You probably wish they would bury themselves in that hole they are digging.

I realize that construction is a necessary part of maintaining and upgrading any campus, especially one like Portland State where many of the buildings are at least 50 years old. Some are over 100 years old.

However, sometimes it feels like it will never end, and maybe that will be the case, at least as far as the span of my education goes. As soon as one project begins, another one is already in the works and on it goes.

It seems like there are more projects happening at once right now than any other time since I first started here in 2010. (Hi, I’m Marie and I am a serial student.) Capital funds are raised to improve the buildings that need revision, upgrading to meet fire codes and seismic structural designs, and even some that don’t yet need upgrading. Have you seen the hall-length glass wall in the Architecture department?

As long as the funding can be found, we’ll keep breaking ground.

How much does all of this continual building cost, and where do the funds come from?

The big money projects currently include the new Peter Stott Center & Viking Pavilion coming in just over $50 million, the rebuilding of the School of Business with a budget of over $60 million, and the revamping of Neuberger Hall, which is still in the design phase with a projected cost of around $70 million. There is no short answer for the question regarding where the funds come from, as the financing for each project comes from a variety of different resources.

Why isn’t that money used to cut the cost of education for the students?

Once again, the answer is complicated. Tuition rates are figured with many factors in mind and these big projects are often awarded with a combination of grants and capital project funding. Some of it is definitely paid for with our tuition, but the money needs to be spent and the improvements need to be made whether we like them or not: Otherwise, there won’t be any buildings to hold classes in.

As far as the actual construction itself, it may be annoying to listen to the clanking sounds of metal beams and the beeping of equipment, and it definitely can be annoying when being diverted to another corner to cross the street, but students do benefit from the inconvenience. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but make no mistake, the construction happening now will improve the life of students on the PSU campus down the line.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: How does this affect me?

You enjoy the exercise equipment and swimming pool in our amazing Academic and Student Recreation Center, right? It opened in 2010 and the students who came before had to deal with that construction for years. Do you take chemistry or biology classes in the Collaborative Life Sciences building? That was finished fall of 2014. Those are just some of the new buildings.

There are countless improvement projects happening all the time to make sure the buildings we spend our time in every day are safe and up to date. So while it may suck to wake up at 6 a.m. to the sound of booming metal breaking the very earth apart while reverberating through your window, just try and remember the benefit for future PSU students and that this too shall pass. Someday. Maybe when you graduate.

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