Embodying Oregons legacy of individuality and independence, Oregon College of Art and Craft has been championing art-making through craft since 1907. Today it offers an intense studio experience, personalized and rigorous instruction, and an active ground for exploration. As the only private art college west of the Mississippi to offer an accredited BFA in Crafts, OCAC is a superb laboratory for the invention of modern craft.
As a principal center for education, creative expression, and the mastery of contemporary craft, the College selected Charles Rose Architects to design three new buildings for its 9.5 acre wooded campus: the campus library, the metals workshop, and the drawing, painting and photography DPP studio, which includes a small thesis pavilion. The DPP building, submitted here, is the first to be constructed; its opening marks the completion of the first phase of the Colleges expansion plans, which will eventually double the current space and enlarge the existing indoor/outdoor nature of the campus grounds. To fulfill this campus vision where craft and nature coexist and inspire, the DPP building is a place where art- making, study, teaching, and contemplation occur in a setting carefully and strategically integrated into the natural hillside landscape.
Charles Rose Architects worked closely with the College to create a building that not only provides functional workspaces but also embraces its pedagogical and strategic objectives. The upper floor of the DPP building includes 6,240 square feet of drawing and painting studios. The lower floor features 5,645 square feet of photography studio space, including five film development stations, three darkrooms, and a state-of-the-art digital lab. Expandable classrooms, capable of holding up to 200 people, create additional space for campus lectures and events. The incorporation of sustainable features is a central design concern for OCAC, and Charles Rose Architects assisted the College in determining its green strategy. The two-story structure utilizes sustainable building techniques that reflect Portlands environmental priorities, and have qualified the building for a LEED Gold certification.
The typical design reflex is to create singular, centralized structures and spaces. Charles Rose Architects separates structures, spaces and planes to create components that are in communication with each other, that promote a dialogue. Positioning structures in relationship to each other literally creates relationships between people and between people and the places they inhabit. At Oregon College of Art and Craft the Thesis Studio Pavilion and the Painting, Drawing, and Photography building were separated.
That separation created:
A landscape in between the two structures for social, educational, and recreational gathering;
A condition which required circulation to and fro, therefore, providing more occasions to interact with others and the environment;
The means by which to create unexpected interlacing views and overviews, making individuals more aware of each other and their environment;
A sense of awe and wonderment over what each person is familiar with: working and living in and around buildings;
A diverse range of spaces, inside and out, on various levels of the site recognizing that people are multifaceted and need social as well as solitary areas to inhabit
The greater Portland community has enthusiastically embraced the new building. Randy Gragg, Editor-in- Chief of Portland Monthly wrote of the building, If its craftsmanship, the way it shapes the winter light, or the artists buzzing inside dont juice the urge to take a class in the New Year, it may at least inspire you to move your desk next to the best window and start making a better 2011. Designed by the Boston-based Charles Rose Architects, the 7 million structure is a rare Portland building designed by a great architect from elsewhere Charles Rose Architects beautifully channeled the regions landscape and light to encourage the tasks inside: making artEvery corner is a carefully composed and crafted convergence of forces that turns the artmaking inside into a collaboration with the surroundings.