Downtown Portland’s reputation for sustainability has been elevated yet again with Portland State University’s latest addition — the Karl Miller Center, a LEED Platinum-certified renovation and a major addition to the University’s School of Business. Designed by SRG Partnership in collaboration with Behnisch Architekten, the Karl Miller Center is a multipurpose destination that provides spaces for gathering, studying and collaborating under one roof while simultaneously activating the streetscape with connections to the city’s network of public spaces.

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The Karl Miller Center consists of three main elements: a renovated structure from the 1970s, a new addition and a five-story atrium that links the two buildings. The atrium serves as the heart of the project and features a series of dynamic ramps that connect a variety of spaces serving the school’s diverse programmatic needs. The light-filled space is further activated by the bold and bright colors used to paint the floors visible from the atrium.

Related: Oregon State University building on a reclaimed mine targets net-zero energy

college students sitting at desk on balcony overlooking double-height lobby
bright yellow room with orange and green seats

To the west of the atrium is the renovated 1970s structure, a 100,000-square-foot building newly clad in corrugated metal panels punctuated by square windows of varying sizes. On the opposite side is the new 45,000-square-foot addition wrapped in regionally sourced, FSC-certified Alaskan Yellow Cedar and designed without any mechanical cooling equipment. The visual contrast between the two structures is enhanced with the addition’s massing, which reads as four stacked boxes, one of which cantilevers out above an entry plaza.

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cantilevered wood college building lit from within at night

“The project also reconsiders the 200’x200’ cadence of Portland’s city blocks with a building that reads as two distinct structures; the metal-clad renovation that abuts the site’s perimeter sits alongside the wood-clad series of stacked, sliding boxes,” reads the project statement. “This approach presents a more diverse streetscape and reinvigorates existing links between the urban center, pedestrians, transportation, and parks.”

+ SRG Partnership

Photography by Brad Feinknopf and Janis Rozkalns via SRG Partnership