University Park Community Center - original design


University Park Community Center was designed and constructed during WWII as a temporary facility to provide support services to nearby shipyard workers. The building was designed of slender wings that would provide natural light and ventilation to all occupied spaces, without reliance on air conditioning or artificial lighting. The only exception was the multi-purpose gym/auditorium which provided USO performances and movies in addition to indoor volley ball and other sports. These wings had been carefully sited to keep existing trees in place and provide a natural shade canopy. This design could offer a textbook example of early sustainable design.  The original facility was designed by Pietro Belluschi in a “Pacific Northwest International Style” [a name suggested by me] that introduced horizontal banded windows [fenêtres au longeur] into every space. Where windows were inappropriate, or too far away, clerestories provided natural light throughout the facility.


When we at Portland Parks and Recreation decided to save this “temporary” structure from further ruin, in 1997, it was these qualities that appealed to me as an architect: abundant natural light, clear circulation, cross ventilation and magnificent trees that towered over the facility. It was also these qualities that we have maintained and to some degree improved on: there is even more natural light and daylighting, the circulation is even clearer, we added more clerestories and skylights, and there are even more and diverse trees and beautiful sustainable plant materials.

I had just completed my advanced degree studies in Italy and had designed the reconstruction of Pliny’s Villa, all the while thinking ahead to how to apply that lesson to this project.  See also Campus plan for UPCC.