Portland State University Student Health, Counseling, Dental and Testing Center PORTLAND, OR
Project category: Conversion (completed February 2003)
Chief administrator: Sandy Franz, Administrative Director of Student Health Services, (503) 725-3462
Firm: Clark/Kjos Architects, (503) 224-4848
Design team: James T. Clark, Jr., Designer, Principal; Corey Morris, Project Manager, Designer; Naomi Coplin, Interior Designer (Clark/Kjos Architects); Mark Firestone, Principal (PAE Consulting Engineers [Mechanical]); Flaviano Reyes, Jr., Principal (Reyes Engineering [Electrical])
Photography: Michael Mathers
Total building area (sq. ft.): 20,000
Construction cost/sq. ft.: $100
Total cost (excluding land): $2,000,000
The conversion of the existing building (formerly a student bookstore) allowed three departments to colocate. Giving this environment an appropriate feel was extremely important. To encourage students to use the services offered, it needed to be approachable and inviting. Counseling services required destigmatizing, and testing required the ability to handle large groups.
The solution includes an open, day-lighted entry/lobby and access corridors. Natural materials celebrate health and wellness. The visitor is greeted by a portico of slate, pebble, and glass tiles, as well as a water pool and large windows into the lobby, with oversized, bronze, leaf-shaped door handles. The lobby/reception/waiting room is immediately inside. The room is light-filled, with overhead “lily pads” and wood grilles. Natural colors and varied textures pervade the interior. Patients for all services wait here, so patients awaiting counseling are not stigmatized. A wellness information center dominates one side of the room.
Behind the scenes in the clinical area, the corridors split into two departments: Health Clinic and Counseling. Rooms between these corridors can be used flexibly for either area. The wood-grille ceiling serves as a wayfinding tool, defining the path of patients. The clinic staff station is central to exams and treatment. The aesthetic is layered: Existing exposed structure is visible, with the wood grille ceiling, gypsum walls, and casework applied, giving the space an appealing semi-unfinished feel for the student population it serves.
Dental and Testing services, where similar aesthetics are used, are accessed via elevator from the lobby.