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PCC Rock Creek expands its options

School adding 27,000 square feet now; 59,000 later


There’s not a quiet moment at Building 7 of the Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus.

Not even during finals week.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Construction workers pour concrete on the second floor of Building 7 at PCC's Rock Creek campus last week, part of a multi-million dollar bond project that will add 86,000 square feet of building space to the rapidly growing campus.

The bustling 256-acre campus is growing and expanding to better meet the needs of rising enrollment. Rock Creek is in the midst of a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation funded by a $374 million bond measure passed by voters in 2008.

Of that amount, $45 million will be spent on construction and renovation at Rock Creek, the sprawling campus just off Northwest 185th Avenue on Springville Road.

An addition to Building 7 progresses at a rapid pace. Earlier this month the final steel beam was “topped out” with requisite pomp and circumstance. The building won’t be finished until spring of 2014, but college officials already have big plans for the new space.

The 27,000 square foot addition will house classrooms as well as provide more space for student resources such as the multicultural center and a women’s resource center.

Many students stay on campus much of the day, said Barbara Linn, bond program manager at Rock Creek. The addition of more individual and group areas will give those students more choices of places to study, she said.

Building 7 is slated for completion in the spring of 2014, but it’s just the beginning of what’s to come for the campus. Next up is a 59,000 square foot addition to Building 5, the facility that sits at the entrance to the campus. When complete, it will serve as the center of student life on campus, Linn said.

The bookstore and an expanded food services area will be located there, as will other public amenities. The building will also house social sciences and health classrooms.

PCC as a whole has seen a 9 percent increase in the number of students in the last five years. At Rock Creek, the college’s fastest growing campus, student count has increased 63 percent in that time.

Rock Creek campus interim President Brigitte Ryslinge attributes the skyrocketing numbers to several factors. First, she said, the campus is located in the heart of the Silicon Forest. Students want training in technology and employers want trained workers. Ryslinge said the campus has added solar technician and automation technician programs to meet growing demand from employers.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Student art adorns the wall connecting to the construction area at Building 9, PCC Rock Creek campus.

“We stay connected with what is going on and with anticipated career fields,” Ryslinge said, adding that new “job niches” open all the time in the ever-changing high tech industry.

A second growth factor is the number of veterans returning to school for training. So many, in fact, that the campus will open a veterans resource center to assist not only with navigating college, but transitioning to civilian life.

Eighty-five percent of the students in the helicopter aviation training program are veterans, Ryslinge noted.

Finally, she said, more students are attending community college for two years on their path to a four-year degree.

“Younger students and families recognize what a wonderful experience they can have here,” Ryslinge said. “There’s an economic rationale, but also a quality experience.”

She pointed out that students are drawn to the opportunity for smaller class sizes and to work directly with instructors.

In keeping with demand for more workers in the health care field, Rock Creek will also expand its health and wellness training programs, including adding a dietary management program beginning next fall, Ryslinge said, and PCC continues to work with community partners to expand and diversify its offerings.

Both building additions, Linn said, are on pace to become LEED-silver buildings according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system.

“Sustainability is big here,” Linn said.

Because building “green” requires significant upfront costs, she added, “we’re trying to focus on the largest impact” areas.

Student and community input were integral to designing the new buildings.

“This bond in particular, there’s been a big push to make sure students are involved,” Linn said.

The college also has a goal of filling at least 20 percent of its construction jobs with women-owned, minority-owned and emerging small businesses through the state’s OMWESB certification program.

Bond construction and renovation is expected to continue into 2016.




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