Mark Rothko Pavilion

Rothko Pavilion side view
Designed for Connection 

Nearly 13 years in the making, what started as a vision of simply creating an above-ground connection between the Portland Art Museum’s campus buildings has evolved into the Mark Rothko Pavilion Project and a design that is expansive, inspired, functional, and accessible. The design team of Vinci Hamp Architects and Hennebery Eddy Architects, along with landscape architects, lighting designers, and more, have created a new vision for our campus that is designed for connection. 

Honoring History

Our current campus buildings and additions were built or renovated across many decades, but the 1932 Main Building designed by Pietro Belluschi has endured as an architectural gem. It is on the national historic registry and has always been a bright spot on the South Park Blocks. The Mark Building housing the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art is a renovated 1927 Masonic Temple designed by Frederick Fritsch, historically significant in its own right.

When envisioning how a new central pavilion could connect the Main Building and the Mark Building, the design team paid close attention to how it would both fit in and stand out while functioning well for the many users of the space. They took cues from the long, linear sight lines and were inspired by geometric proportions in Belluschi’s original building. Additionally, the new material palette is intended to preserve and enhance the visual identity of the existing historic structures.

Universal Design

Providing equitable access through universal design principles is at the center of this project. While the Mark Rothko Pavilion is the most visible part of achieving this goal, there are many other improvements and changes throughout the new and renovated spaces that all visitors will benefit from. 

The Pavilion becomes the new central entrance, with accessible entries from both the east and west sides. The east entrance on Park Avenue features a generous ramp alongside a modest set of stairs, while the new west-side entry removes barriers and offers entry through a new flat-grade West Plaza. Both entries utilize granite pavers that extend to the sidewalk to signal arrival to the entry area and function as a tactile wayfinding tool both outside and inside of the Museum. The new horizontal circulation patterns will be consistent among floors and include auditory and tactile directional cues
for wayfinding. 

A community feedback process that took into account the user needs of the passageway between the two buildings resulted in a dynamic design of the Ritz Family Community Passageway that will allow users to see inside the Museum in brand new ways.

Inside the Pavilion, two new passenger elevators will make wayfinding and direct access to all four floors immeasurably better than what currently exists. Push-button door openers, flexible-use furniture, sloped floors in place of stairs, and thoughtfully placed handrails are all examples of what visitors can expect. New all-gender restrooms located in central locations on all four floors will have floor-to-ceiling, single-stall design; family-sized stalls; and changing stations that can accommodate caregiving for people of all ages and sizes.

Purposefully Transparent 

The Main Building and Mark Building are both largely opaque, with minimal street-level windows, and constructed with brick and heavy materials. The new highly transparent Mark Rotho Pavilion adds much-needed visual permeability. The new West Plaza seamlessly flows from the sidewalk to the first-floor Swigert Warren Community Commons, while the Jubitz Terrace and Sky Deck allow the museum experience to flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. Purposeful and beautiful lighting design will create new experiences and promote safety during low-light times.

Environmental Considerations   

This expansion and renovation project has been designed with the highest levels of environmental considerations and energy efficiency. The glass walls of the Mark Rothko Pavilion are custom fritted glass, which means there is a subtle vertical striping pattern embedded in the glass, and also coated with a special material that helps to moderate temperature. These glass treatments also meet the standard for bird-safe design, and automated roller shades will further mitigate glare and heat. 

Efficient LED lighting will reduce energy use by nearly 75%, and radiant floor heating will improve visitor comfort and energy efficiency. New restrooms will feature ultra-low-flow toilets to reduce water use by 20%, and new irrigation systems with efficient watering mechanisms will further enhance water conservation. Careful salvage of the existing masonry around the
new loading dock area will be used to reconstruct the low garden wall along Southwest Jefferson Street. 

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