The Portland Art Museum Rothko Pavilion has been approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission. The project will add a new above grade structure to link the museum’s main building to the Mark Building. The project is being designed by Portland-based Hennebery Eddy Architects and Chicago-based Vinci Hamp Architects, with landscape design by Walker Macy.
The museum’s campus consists of two buildings. The main building was designed by architect Pietro Belluschi, and completed in 1932. In 1970 Belluschi completed an addition to the north side of the building. The addition originally housed the Museum Art School, the predecessor to PNCA, and is now used for the museum shop and cafe, the Native American art galleries, and the Northwest art galleries. The main building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.
To the north of the main building is the Mark Building, which was originally built as known as the Masonic Temple. The museum agreed to buy the temple in 1990. A series of projects designed by Ann Beha Architects of Boston were completed to link the Masonic Temple to the main building. Construction of the Whitsell Auditorium, located beneath the plaza in between the two buildings, was completed in 2000. A renovation of the Mark Building, which now houses the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art, was completed in 2005.
While the two buildings are connected underground, few visitors reach the contemporary art galleries in the Mark Building. At ground level and above the buildings are separated by a plaza. The plaza was formerly part of SW Madison St, however the right-of-way was vacated by the city council in 1968. The council ordinance that granted the land to the Art Museum and Masonic Temple Association required that an 8′ wide pedestrian path be maintained on the alignment of the former street.
The four story Rothko Pavilion will create a new main entry to the museum at the existing plaza. The pavilion will link the galleries in the two buildings at levels 1.5, 2, 3 and 4. New gallery space will be created in levels 2 and 4 of the pavilion, and in level 1.5 of the Mark Building.
The pavilion will be clad with a glass curtainwall system. The glazing will have an acid etched fritting in order reduce the number of bird collisions.
In response to earlier community concerns that the project would block pedestrian access, the pavilion incorporates an exterior passageway at the ground level, maintaining the pedestrian connection between SW Park and 10th Ave.
The sculpture court facing SW 10th Ave will be redesigned to be more open to the public realm than is currently the case. As a way to draw people through the site, the new mortar set stone paving will extend to the edge of new curb extensions proposed on SW Park and 10th.
The Museum’s main loading dock is currently located at the plaza between the two buildings. As part of the project the loading dock will be relocated to SW Jefferson St, with new gallery space above it at level 2 of the main building.
The Portland Art Museum Rothko Pavilion was approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission at its first land use hearing, held on March 11th, 2019, following Design Advice Requests in April 2018, August 2018 and January 2019.
In the Final Findings and Decision by the Historic Landmarks Commission it was noted that the new pavilion has a minimal impact to the historic buildings, while creating new opportunities to view art for the general public:
The proposal for the new Rothko Pavilion creates an inviting new entry pavilion for the Portland Art Museum, thus resolving several internal connectivity and accessibility issues. The pavilion does this with minimal impacts to the historic resources. While the vacated SW Madison right- of-way will now be occupied with newly enclosed building space primarily for private use, it does so in a way that preserves a sense of openness, allows pedestrians through access across the site, and exposes pedestrians to art that may otherwise remain to hidden to non-paying customers. In this way, the museum will better serve its patrons as well as the city as a whole. The proposed loading bay, while not ideally located, preserves the historic buildings, ensure a safe and comfortable public realm between the buildings, and minimizes loading impacts through its design and proposed management, which marks a notable improvement over the current condition
Buildings permits will need to be obtained before construction can begin on the Rothko Pavilion.