The Viking Pavilion, Portland State’s newest building, opened April 4. The 141,700 square foot venue, adjacent to the South Park Blocks between SW Hall and SW College Avenue, is designed to function as a multipurpose event center as well as PSU Athletics’ new home.
“This is a transformative building for our campus,” said Campus Recreation Director Alex Accetta. “I think it’s going to activate the entire South Park Blocks and begin to draw people to this side of downtown in a way that I think we don’t even understand or can anticipate.”
Designed by Woofter Architecture and built by Fortis Construction, Inc., the pavilion features a newly-renovated 8,000 square foot weight room, five general pool classrooms, student lounges and the new Oregon Health and Sciences University Sports Medicine Center in addition to its central arena, which can accommodate up to 3,500 people for a variety of events including basketball and volleyball games, trade shows, commencements, seminars and banquets. “You’re always connected to the outside and to the inside,” said W+A architect Miles Woofter. “You’ll find there’s not a bad seat in the house.”
Planning and construction for the pavilion has been underway since August 2013 and carried an overall price tag of approximately $51 million. The majority of funding for the project came from private gifts and state bonds, as well as a $7.5 million sponsorship from OHSU. An additional $1.5 million were drawn from student building fees, which come from mandatory student fees. No general operating funds or tuition dollars were used to fund the project.
According to Accetta, funds taken from student building fees were put towards the construction of classrooms, student lounges and food service, including a cafe set to open in fall 2018. “There’s a real clear attempt to make this have a lot of lounge spaces,” he said. “That’s really to help this place be real student centered.”
A large wood panel attached to the outer western wall of the arena, which Accetta called an ode to a viking ship, is visible through the two-story window that faces the Park Blocks.
“The wood wall of course refers to [PSU’s mascot] the Vikings,” said W+A architect Jonathan Bolch. “We wanted a symbol of Viking athletics but we didn’t want it to be literal. It’s a 200-foot-long gesture made out of reclaimed lumber from the Pacific Northwest.”
The pavilion was built as an extension of the Peter W. Stott Center, which was built in 1966 as a home for PSU Athletics. The Stott Center’s 1,775-seat gym, which previously hosted Vikings basketball and volleyball games, now functions as a practice gym. As Associate Athletics Director Mike Lund noted, the new pavilion arena will be able to accommodate nearly twice the number of spectators as the old gym.
The Viking Pavilion also contains the athletics department staff offices, allowing all athletics staff to work in the same building for the first time. “I have worked here for many…years [and] I [had] never been in [the Stott Center] until I moved in here last August,” Lund said. “Getting everybody together under one roof has been huge for our staff.”
The pavilion will host Vikings basketball and volleyball games beginning in fall 2018. During construction, Vikings basketball games took place at Lewis and Clark College in southwest Portland. “It’s pretty exciting to finally get to come home and be able to actually play in front of your friends,” said PSU freshman and Vikings basketball player Holland Woods.
Woods said he was optimistic about the effect the pavilion would have on PSU athletics in general. “I think it will be able to start a culture here having a nice arena right here on campus,” he said.
The Viking Pavilion Grand Opening Celebration is scheduled for noon on Monday, April 9.