Structure Type: built works - public buildings - health and welfare buildings; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca (ZGF) Partnership (firm); Robert J. Frasca (architect); Brooks R. Gunsul (architect); Norman Cunningham Zimmer (architect)

Dates: constructed 1987

3232 SW Research Drive
Oregon Health Sciences University Campus, Portland, OR 97239

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The Vollum Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research at the Oregon Health Sciences University opened in late 1987, and was designed by the noted Portland architectural firm of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca (ZGF).

Building Notes

Seattle Times reporter, Marsha King, wrote a 1989 article on the resurgence of terra cotta among architects as a building material. She cited the Vollum Institute as an exemplar of this new trend and quoted the building's architect: "After its heyday, from 1880 to 1940, terra cotta slowly fell out of favor. Modernism's followers considered it too expensive, aesthetically old-fashioned and technologically behind. 'The idea of actually decorating a building was thought to be corrupt,' says Portland architect Robert Frasca. `Terra cotta, with its neoclassical references, was sort of swept away.' But of late, as the built world looks more and more the same, the public yearns for cities that stand out from one another. And architects want more expressive materials than marble, steel and stone. Terra cotta can be an answer. In small ways it's making a comeback here and across the country not only in the restoration of historic structures, but as a viable material in new construction as well.It's obvious that working with terra cotta is not the same as working in metal or stone. The material's idiosyncrasies often challenge those accustomed to fast-paced, cookie-cutter construction. `People are just now getting used to using it. It hasn't been part of the architectural vocabulary,' says Portland architect Frasca. The architect specified terra cotta for the south face of the Vollum Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research at the Oregon Health Sciences University, completed in late 1987. Frasca's firm - Zimmer, Gunsul and Frasca Partnership - opened a Seattle office last summer. They created a master plan for the new South Lake Union campus of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and now are drawing a detailed design of the first phase. (See Marsha King, "Feats of Clay--Architects Turn Back to Terra Cotta to Bring Vivid Colors to Buildings," Seattle Times, 03/12/1989, p. L1.)

PCAD id: 10757