Category: Category B: Built, More than $25 million (construction cost)

Project: Peter O. Kohler Pavilion

Owner: Oregon Health & Science University

Project Location: Portland, Oregon

Architect: Perkins+Will

JV or associate architect: Petersen Kohlberg & Associates

Interior Designer: Czopek & Erdenberger, Inc.

General contractor: Hoffman-Andersen, A Joint Venture

MEP engineer: Mazzetti & Associates

Civil engineer: W&H Pacific

Photographers: Eckert+Eckert; Rick Keating

Landscape architect: Murase Associates

Construction cost (not including equipment): $135,000,000

Building area GSF: 335,000

Substantial completion date: July 2006

Kohler Pavilion extends Oregon Health & Science University's existing South Hospital, which is sited spectacularly atop Marquam Hill, above Portland, at the edge of the hilltop campus. Form and mass play with an adjacent curved structure to create a gateway leading into the campus, and act as a backdrop for views from the Willamette River waterfront below.

A 75-foot terrain drop from north to south across the site allowed concealment of a 450-car parking garage into the hill, below a reconstructed street. A stone-clad, four-story D+T symbolic “mountain” base houses new ORs and new entries; the 11-story bed tower above resolves the inherent duality.

South (city) elevations introduce regionally coveted natural daylight and provide dramatic views to the beloved Mt. Hood through a floor-to-ceiling curtainwall. The exterior is double-clad, however: North walls facing into the historic heart of the campus are articulated with punched windows in campus-style brick and stone. Cascading landscaped roof decks provide both intimate healing gardens and public view terraces open to the surrounding views.

The Pavilion integrates a 9th floor campus-wide “pedestrian superhighway” throughout, linking campus patient care and research zones, and harbors a new aerial tram terminus connecting the campus to waterfront parking and campus buildings below.


As one of the primary healthcare providers in the region, OHSU Hospital needed additional patient bed capacity, as well as surgery capacity. In addition, there was a desire to increase the proportion of private patient rooms and support space on nursing units. Key project goals were to improve overall circulation for public and patients and to improve overall effectiveness of nurses, physicians, and staff.

Circulation and patient access were enhanced through a new attached parking structure with a gracious landscaped entry court and a connection to the 9th floor public “superhighway.” Staff effectiveness is enhanced through consolidation of services, simplified circulation, enhanced daylighting, and programmatic adjacencies that reduce travel time. In addition, spaces for families and staff offering magnificent mountain views provide respite and calming influences.

This project responded to strong city planning approval requirements, including view corridors, a mandated publicly-accessible viewing terrace, a reforestation program, and stormwater management. The unique character of the site, with high visibility from both the modern downtown and the historic campus, led to the two-sided cladding response-curtainwall on one side, brick and stone on the other-mentioned above. The building's mountaintop skyline impacts from nighttime views of the structure and building lighting were carefully accounted for.

The steepness of the mountain slope and physical tightness of the buildable site added great complexity to the final design solution. Foundations, structural grids, vertical circulation cores, and entry points were carefully planned to allow for maximum flexibility to reconfigure tower floors as offices, inpatient or outpatient beds, as needed, and to anticipate a future adjacent tower extension. Significant care was given to the integration of the public pathway, which arrives in the middle of the building from the terminus of the adjacent aerial tram tower and connects to the campus-wide pedestrian “superhighway,” which itself weaves through the building along the south (view) side.

The Portland community values highly the beauty of their natural environment and strives to preserve their resources and maintain a high quality of life. Accordingly, this project improves conditions on Marquam Hill through stormwater management, site preservation, increased public access and view vistas, easing parking and traffic problems, and the greening of the construction sites. Public access to the entire campus is increased significantly by integrating the arrival point for the aerial tramway that brings staff, students, patients and community members to the top of the hill from the Willamette riverfront miles below. This, in addition to the 450-car parking garage (concealed with vines and reforested tree zones), helps resolve traffic snarls and parking shortages on the hill.

The site was one of the last remaining parcels of land on the property, and was deemed unbuildable because it was so steep and narrow. The building responds to this challenge with a small footprint, and treats all available horizontal surfaces (top of the garage, terraced healing gardens, service dock roofs, etc.) as landscaped gardens, capturing rainfall and keeping it from the stormwater system. The project also gives the community a stunning terrace, with views to Mt. Hood and a new park on the north side of the building.

Healthcare Design 2009 November;9(11):179-181