Science Market Update

Portland Life Sciences Take to the Sky and Water with New $295M Building

Posted by Jaimee Saliba on Mon, Jan 09, 2012

portland sky tramWe’ve been writing a lot lately about real estate and the complexities of urban life science expansion.  In terms of ingenuity and multi-agency collaboration, Portland’s expansion into the South Waterfront area in order to expand Oregon Health & Science University’s capacity and facilitate collaboration with other Oregon universities is uniquely impressive. Recognizing long ago that OHSU’s location offered limited growth opportunity in terms of surrounding real estate, officials looked down the hill to Portland’s South Waterfront district, and at a derelict salvage yard in particular.  There was space there, between two bridges, but would it be a valuable expansion if researchers and students couldn’t get between the two campuses easily? How to convince the principal players that the locale would work?

[Image courtesy of Portland Aerial Tram]

In a bold move that turned out to be a very popular one, Portland and OHSU built the aerial tram that connects the Marquam Hill Campus of OHSU to the South Waterfront and the future Collaborative Life Sciences Building.  Portlanders loved it, and ride it for pleasure as well as getting up and down the hill for work, shopping, and access to OHSU's Center for Health and Healing at the foot of the tram. Street cars and a new light-rail line will move people along the waterfront and connect the campus with southeast Portland. With the transportation component successfully resolved, donors and agencies got busy acquiring and designing the site and securing funding.  All of which lead up to the ground-breaking on the life sciences building last October, with phased completion set for 2013-2014.

The 480,000sf project will actually have two components, developed in tandem, and the building itself has the look of two structures joined by an atrium.  At least 85,000sf of the overall building will be devoted to research labs. The total cost of the project is estimated at $295 million.  The Collaborative Life Sciences Building will be the first on the 20-acre site, with others to follow. The land itself was donated by the company that owned it (value: $34M); hence its official name is the Schnitzer Campus.

portland life sciences building

[Preliminary drawing of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building, courtesy of OHSU]

The new campus will allow for significant growth of all three universities that are part of the collaboration, plus the unquantifiable benefit of facilitating interactions between people and institutions.  Indeed, calling it an expansion of the OHSU campus doesn’t fully encompass what the new campus will mean for the Oregon University System and the city of Portland itself, which plans to become a major intellectual hub in the sciences, spurred on by this multi-university growth.

Some highlights and numbers of interest:

  • OHSU will get highly specialized laboratory space for its new Center for Spatial Systems Biomedicine led by pioneering scientist Joe Gray (newly-recruited) and a dream team of collaborators that are working to create the “Google-Earth Map of Human Cells” (we’ll blog on this separately later in the year)
  • The expanded research facility will allow OHSU to grow its research programs over the next 5-7 years
  • OHSU will expand its medical school class from 120 to 160

  • OHSU will expand its dental school class from 75 to 90, and its physician assistant class from 40 to 50
  • The joint Oregon State University/OHSU pharmacology program will increase from 90 to 115 students, and the School of Pharmacy will relocate entirely to the new building
  • Portland State University will nearly double the number of spaces in its undergraduate biology and physics courses to 500, with state-of-the-art teaching labs in the new building
  • Portland State University move specific research programs in Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics into the building
  • Ample laboratory space will be reserved for future collaborative research projects between OHSU and Oregon University System investigators
  • The number of doctors, dentists and pharmacists trained in Oregon will increase markedly
  • Oregon should be well-positioned to see its federal research funding increased

Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. invites life sciences researchers, lab managers, and purchasing agents in Portland to attend our 10th Annual Portland BioResearch Product Faire event on the OHSU Marquam Hill Campus tentatively scheduled for September 13, 2012.  This event is an excellent opportunity for laboratory equipment suppliers to meet and network with scientists and discuss new technologies and research lab needs.  For information on exhibiting, click below:

portland life sciences

Tags: Oregon State University, Oregon Health Sciences University, Northwest, New research facilities, Oregon, Portland

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