Shattuck Hall blends Portland State’s historical charm and modern efficiency

Shattuck Hall is located in the south end of the Park Blocks.

Since the 1990s, Shattuck Hall has been home to the School of Architecture. With its open studios, contemporary fixtures, high ceilings and natural light, it’s a mix of 20th-century charm and 21st-century modernism, and an ideal setting for the school’s approximately 300 undergraduate and master’s students.

The building underwent a major, award-winning renovation in 2008, which earned it LEED Gold status and transformed its interior. But if you look closely, you will see remnants of the building’s past life as Shattuck School, which opened its doors to neighborhood children in 1915.

Shattuck Hall, Courtesy Portland Public Schools

In each of the open-plan studios — long since stripped of the old classroom walls, chalkboards and children’s desks — elegant built-in shelving units remain, and it doesn’t take much imagination to picture a teacher’s desk, topped with a globe, test papers, and maybe an apple, nearby. Other details belie the building’s past life as an elementary school, including the original wooden stair bannisters, the tall windows, and the hardwood floors.

The lower floor of Shattuck Hall, which now houses the wood and metal shop for the Schools of Architecture and Art + Design, a casting shop, a printmaking studio, a digital lab and drawing classrooms, initially featured a swimming pool. The “tank,” as it was called, was “of white tile, of graduated depth, 75 by 30 feet in size, filled with sterilized water kept constantly flowing,” according to a 1915 article in The Oregonian. The pool was situated on the west side of the building, with locker rooms and showers positioned to the east. The lower floor also included a gymnasium and playroom, roughly where the wood and metal shop is today.

One item from the school’s past is a bit of an enigma, however. According to a newspaper article at the time, a “receptacle containing a history of the Shattuck School” was placed “in a niche in the cornerstone” on May 21, 1915, at an event celebrating the building’s opening. At present, the location of this hidden treasure of history is unknown to PSU officials, so the mystery continues. — Karen O’Donnell Stein, Marketing & Communications Manager, College of the Arts

Architecture students’ outdoor laboratory

Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza

The Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza, located on the east side of Shattuck Hall, serves as an outdoor laboratory space for the School of Architecture.

This is where students and faculty build experimental prototypes for the Pickathon Treeline Stage, hammering together full-scale mockups of stage components to work out the kinks before launching the main build at Pendarvis Farm. Passing by during a typical school year, you might also see experiments with vertical gardens, a sloped green roof, Master of Architecture thesis demonstrations and material reuse investigations.

The space hasn’t always been an experimental design-build lab, however. When Shattuck Hall was an elementary school, this area was used as an outdoor playground.

Playground paving still lies just below the surface. When the school building was taken over by PSU, the play area became the site of a prefabricated structure used by Campus Public Safety. Its rusted steel frame straddles the plaza today.

The permeable paving that forms the surface of this space offers another layer of history. The historic basalt cobblestones — some of them estimated to be at least 100 years old — originally lined the streets of Old Town and inner Southeast Portland.

When the Eco Plaza was installed nearly a decade ago, Architecture students braved the winter rains, dug up 30,000 pounds of the cobblestones from a park in St. Johns, loaded them onto rented trucks and transported them back to PSU for installation in the plaza. Now, they mitigate stormwater runoff and remind us that wherever we go, history lies right beneath our feet. — Karen O’Donnell Stein, Marketing & Communications Manager, College of the Arts

Rediscovering Campus is a weekly series that highlights the stories behind popular spaces at Portland State University, as we gear up for a return to in-person learning.

Rediscovering Campus: Simon Benson House, the jewel of the park blocks

Simon Benson House

The Simon Benson House is a familiar landmark on campus, and home of the Alumni Association. But this beautiful, century-old home didn’t always reside in the South Park Blocks.

The Simon Benson House was moved to the park blocks in 2000.

The house is named after logger and civic philanthropist Simon Benson, who built the grand Queen Anne style house just after 1900 on the corner of SW 11th and Clay in downtown Portland across from the historic Old Church. The interior of the house featured rich detail and decoration, and each room was paneled in a different kind of wood.

The Simon Benson House remained there for nearly 100 years. The home fell into disrepair and was condemned in 1991 but it couldn’t be torn down because of its designation on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Benson Bubbler

Over the years, many people tried to save the historic home and to find new purpose for the architecturally significant building. At long last and under the direction of late City Commissioner and PSU alumna Gretchen Kafoury, the Friends of Simon Benson House was founded to create awareness for the project and ultimately raise the $1.6 million dollars needed to move and restore the home. Kafoury partnered with alumna Pat Squire, then Executive Director of the PSU Alumni Association, and the two got to work to relocate the house to campus, with the intention it would become the home of the Alumni Association and serve as a visitors’ center for campus.

With financial support from more than 1,000 individuals and businesses, the house was moved to its new location on the Portland State University campus on Jan. 16, 2000. The renovation of the house took nearly a year and was done with care to replicate the significant architectural elements. Today the Simon Benson House is once again listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

At the front of the house, you can find an iconic Benson Bubbler. As the story goes, Simon Benson donated $10,000 in 1912 to buy and install bronze drinking fountains around the city, now known as Benson Bubblers. The Portland Water Bureau maintains more than 50 of the four-bowl fountains throughout downtown Portland.

The Simon Benson House is now home for the university’s greatest assets — its alumni — and a visible presence to students to encourage their lifelong relationship with PSU. Visitors are welcome!

Rediscovering Campus is a weekly series that highlights the stories behind popular spaces at Portland State University, as we gear up for a return to in-person learning.

A Wild June

June was a big month in my household. The Clinton Street Cabaret’s Rocky Horror performance, something I have been involved with since I was eighteen, began again. My roommate finally got her gender confirmation surgery. I added a sweet new partner to my polycule. I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree and the first year of my master’s under my belt. My partner finally changed their legal name. I got married. I went on my honeymoon. 

It’s been a crazy summer to say the least!

I love being married. It’s an absolute dream. I’ve had many cautionary tales thrown at me about getting married so young. I’ve even lost friends over my choice to be married at 21. However, I kept the people in my life that mattered, and our chosen families were beautifully supportive. 

After such a wild month, I’m ready to slow down a little bit. I am still physically disabled and in pain 24/7. I’m still always dizzy, exhausted, and weak. I’ve always pushed myself until I break, and this summer is no different!

So I am practicing the lessons I have learned about taking care of myself and forcing myself to slow down. (Just a little!) 

I am working hard to tell myself that my worth is not defined by my productivity. Sometimes, simply surviving the day is enough. I’m allowed to still be proud of myself for existing. Other people can take up the mantle a little.

It’s not easy.

I hate being idle. I can hardly stand to sit still, chronic pain be damned. But I am trying, and that’s all that matters.

It was a hell of a June — hopefully my July can be a bit slower! 

A Return to Campus

by JP “Johnny” Campbell

Now that Oregon has relaxed their COVID restrictions, students will return to the PSU campus this fall for the first time in a year. I’m both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous. I haven’t been in a physical classroom in a long time! I completed both my last year of undergrad and my first year of grad school in front of a computer screen!

There are perks to going to college in your living room. It’s nice to be around my pets, to let my wife listen in on my lectures, and to sit on a couch instead of a classroom desk. At the same time, however, it was incredibly difficult to stay engaged and pay attention. In your home, every possible distraction looms. Roommates, pets, partners, the television, knocking mailmen and food delivery folks, nosy neighbors — any number of things!

I look forward to being around my peers again most of all. I am an incredibly social person! I thrive around people, and have missed befriending classmates badly. I can’t wait to make new friends and to feel more engaged this next term.

I am going to take concrete steps to stay safe on campus this fall — handwashing and use of hand sanitizer, social distancing/masking if appropriate, and avoiding eating inside. An abundance of caution, perhaps, but one can’t be too careful!

I cannot wait to sit in a classroom, look at the view from the top floor of the CUPA building, meet with my advisors, and study in the library. I’ve missed our campus sorely. I have my reservations about in-person classes after such a long time on Zoom, but I’m absolutely excited! 

Rediscovering Campus: Urban Plaza is Portland State’s front door

Portland State University’s Urban Plaza

The Urban Plaza is an outdoor gathering space and transit hub between the College of Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) and the university’s Campus Rec building.

Completed in 2002, the space was created by closing off SW Montgomery Street to vehicular traffic between 5th and 6th Avenues. The original designers envisioned the plaza as a “cauldron” of activity that would serve as the university’s front door, welcoming commuters arriving by bus, train and bike.

The new entrance was also intended to connect PSU to the city’s municipal and financial areas, complementing its existing relationship with the artistic and cultural core of the South Park Blocks. 

The plaza captures the natural beauty that surrounds Portland State’s campus by bringing together brick and stone elements, dramatic water features, and evergreen landscaping.

The plaza draws frequent comparisons to downtown Portland’s iconic Pioneer Courthouse Square, and for good reason: local design firm Walker Macy consulted on the master plans for both spaces. While the Square — which opened in 1984 — creates an amphitheater by cutting a circle into a concave set of stairs and steps, the Urban Plaza thrusts stairs and stadium-like steps upward into the space. It was once aptly described by a PSU architect as “Pioneer Courthouse Square turned inside out.” 

The plaza fountain

Londoner John Aiken created the mountain-like sculptures that mark the Urban Center’s main entrance. Composed of stone and light granite, the monoliths create 20- to 40-foot shadows across the plaza’s bricks, reminding passersby of the “hugeness of nature” that surrounds the campus on all sides. 

The plaza’s fountains draw attention to the main pedestrian corridors and provide a tranquil backdrop for passersby who elect to sit and stay a while. One fountain creates gentle ripples like a fish ladder, while the others create narrow streams that plunge like the waterfalls in the nearby Columbia Gorge. Students can often be found chatting in the sun or grabbing coffee while sitting atop a fountain parapet. 

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the Urban Plaza is the streetcar that carves a diagonal path through its bricks and stones. Each new car announces itself with a friendly chime and gentle shake of the buildings above it.

With no physical separation between the streetcar tracks and plaza pedestrians, the placement was intended to conjure images of busy European streetscapes.

— Erin Sutherland, Marketing & Communications Manager at Portland State’s College of Urban & Public Affairs

Rediscovering Campus is a weekly series that highlights the stories behind popular spaces at Portland State University, as we gear up for a return to in-person learning.

A Scaly New Friend

It is no secret that I’ve wanted a snake my whole life. I have been talking about reptiles since childhood, begging my parents for a scaly buddy since I could talk. The answer was always no. (Honestly, more than fair, since we were/are a household of tender-hearted vegetarians.)

I’ve been scrimping and saving for a snake since I moved out of my parents’ home at age 18. I did multiple years of research, I combed through snake-owning Facebook groups and subreddits for hours. I looked at all the ways one could — intentionally or unintentionally — abuse or mistreat their snake. It seemed like surprise financial situations kept getting in my way, however. Unexpected medical bills, vet emergencies for both my cat and my dog within a few months of each other. COVID rendering me unemployed. Moving twice in a year. It adds up!

A few weekends ago, my fiancee and I decided to get out of the house by visiting a local pet store. We promised each other that we wouldn’t come home with an animal (five cats, a dog, and four people in one tiny house is enough!!). “We’re just going to get Theodore a dog toy. Maybe we can buy a hide and a water dish for the snake when we eventually get it,” I said.

My fiancee agreed. We’d planned to get the set-up for the snake little by little, over a period of months (or even a year), so we would be prepared. Set-up first; snake last.

Well … then we met Ganymede. They (too young to tell their sex) are an albino California kingsnake. Just a few months old! They came with a cage, substate, one hide, a water dish, and a heat lamp. It was too good to be true!! We snapped up our expensive new baby, and it has been a joy.

I named them Ganymede for Zeus’s favorite cupbearer, a beautiful youth the god stole from the mortal realm. They are incredibly well-tempered and open to handling. We truly love our new buddy, and cannot wait to give them the best life ever!

(This is a picture of the albino morph from Google Images, unfortunately, not my own phone. The little bugger is too quick for a good photo!)

Albino California Kingsnake Photograph by David Kenny

A Hard Lesson in Slowing Down

By Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

Content warning: discussion of dental procedures, descriptions of physical pain, descriptions of my own emetophobia

Recently, I got all four wisdom teeth pulled. While this is usually an unpleasant experience for anyone, it was made all the more difficult by two things: 1) my intense phobia of dentists and 2) the nasty reaction I had to the pain medication I was prescribed. I will be open: due to mental illness, my teeth aren’t in ship-shape condition. I have some cavities that need to be filled and could use a deep cleaning. But when my wisdom teeth started growing in, I knew that that was one procedure I couldn’t just skip.

I was getting splitting headaches, jaw pain, and terrible earaches the like of which I haven’t had in years. It sucked. I held out as long as I could, but eventually had to give in. Those suckers had to go!

I tend to pop up almost disturbingly quickly after surgeries, disabilities, be damned. Anaesthesia doesn’t bring me down long. My energy levels for the first three days after the surgery were high. I was doing chores. I was walking the dog. I was reading, eating solid food, even doing homework. On day four, however, something changed. I threw up two times in quick succession. I started feeling feverish, I couldn’t stop crying, and I would get dizzy and nauseous if I so much as shifted on the couch. The next day, I threw up four times, and my symptoms were more of the same. My jaw ached, I could hardly speak, and I couldn’t stop throwing up! Terrible.

And if the dentist fear wasn’t bad enough —I am paralyzed with fear when it comes to vomit. If I hear someone gag, cough too hard, or even make a grossed-out face while eating, I’ll flee the room. I literally haven’t — well, hadn’t — thrown up in 11 years before 2020. And the six times I threw up in two days was more than I had thrown up in my entire life.

I learned a pretty powerful lesson over this past week: it’s okay to slow down. I got so physically sick because of the pain medication, and also because I pushed myself too hard. The harder I pushed myself, the more pain I was in: so it was this awful cycle that just fed itself. So, reluctantly, I put down the laptop. I let my housemates take over the chores. I took an extra day off work.

I’ll be frank — I didn’t enjoy it! But my body has healed much faster than I expected. I hadn’t let my body rest because I didn’t think my surgery was that big of a deal. “People get their wisdom teeth out all the time. They don’t bitch and moan about it as much as I am. They don’t cry for two hours and throw up a bunch. I’m just being dramatic.”

Well … no. I wasn’t. I honored my body’s needs, slowed down, and I’m on the mend now!!

Quarantine TV Recs: Netflix

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

I have never been much of a TV person. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I’m much more of a reader, a theatre/opera person, or a writer. I get very antsy sitting still, but books and the like occupy my mind decently. During quarantine, however, and at the behest of my fiancee, I’ve been sitting down and binge watching dozens of TV shows.

So, from someone who isn’t much of a TV buff, here’s a list of shows I’d recommend

That 70s Show

A childhood/high school favorite of my fiancee, this quickly became one of my favorites too. It is definitely a product of its time, and is worth being looked at with a critical eye. That said, the genuine friendship the characters have makes my heart ache with a kind of nostalgia for a time I never knew. My parents, who were in their late teens and early twenties in the 1970s, noted that it is remarkably accurate to their high school years. Its cheeky humor and the growth of its characters makes it a very fun watch.


iZombie is a show I used to love in high school. I’m a horror fan, and zombies are my weakness. So a snarky-sweet assistant medical examiner zombie and her zombie hunter boyfriend made for some campy fun. The acting isn’t the best, nor is the writing, but it’s a lot of fun. The characters are totally lovable, and the plot twists make it worth watching!


I never thought a show about uber-objectified 80s lady wrestlers would be my thing, but it totally is. This is one of the most brilliantly written shows on Netflix, in my opinion. The costuming is incredible, the moral ambiguity of the characters makes them all the more compelling, and the plot is fast-paced and realistic. One of my biggest must-watches!

The End of the F***ing World

This is one of the darkest shows on my watch-list, but also one of the best. Two teenagers, one of whom thinks he suffers from psychopathy and the other who is simply bored with life, run away. The young actors are incredible! The show is intense and definitely a black comedy, but I highly recommend it!

Look for my Hulu recommendations next time!

New to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

By: Ragan Love

One thing that you should know about me is that I do not like action movies. Because of this I had only seen two of the Spider Man movies, which was only because of my brother. My roommates decided that we needed to have a MCU marathon to bring me up to date.

I took us about four months to fit all of the movies into our busy schedules and we decided to watch the movies in chronological order — we started with Captain America and just finished Avengers: End Game. 

A lot of these movies were hard for me to get through because I don’t like fight scenes. I feel like they go on and on, but I love the storyline of all of the movies and how they are all connected so I still found them worth watching. 

Because I am completely new to this series, I don’t have a bias when it comes to who my favorite characters are.I have been able to create my own opinion when it comes to the MCU universe.

If you’d like my fresh, hot take, here are my top MCU movies, ranked: 

(Not included: Captain Marvel (2019), The Incredible Hulk (2008))

  1. Spiderman Far From Home: What I love about this movie is how it showed the aftermath of End Game and how Peter was affected by the events of that movie.
  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: I never thought that this was going to be on the top of my list but I love how well the stories of the music and the plot of the movie fit together so well!
  1. Black Panther: This is one of my favorites because of the back story of the villain in the movie. I feel like he is one of the only ones who had a reason he turned bad and wanted to take over.
  1. Doctor Strange: This was one of my roommates least favorite so I was expecting to feel the same but I was surprised. I like that his superhero name includes his Doctor title and the visuals with all of the magic was very cool. 
  1. Thor Ragnarok: A favorite movie in my house and I think the dialogue was very funny. One of my favorite avengers is the Hulk and I think he was a wonderful addition to this film. 
  1. Captain America: The First Avenger: This was a pretty good movie overall. I actually ended up falling asleep at the end so I wasn’t aware that Captain America was frozen.
  1. Avengers End Game: The only reason why this isn’t higher is because of the amount of fighting there was, I ended up doing homework every time a fight scene broke out.
  1. Iron Man 3: This is my favorite Iron Man movie because it shows the evolution of all of the suits he ever made.
  1. Spiderman Homecoming: I love Tom Holland as Peter Parker because he really captures the “I am a teenager who is dealing with that as well as being a superhero” angst.
  1. Antman: My favorite element in this movie is the relationship that Scott Lang has with his daughter and his ex-wife. I am a big fan of Paul Rudd and think he played this character perfectly!
  1. Iron Man
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. Avengers: Infinity War
  5. Thor
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  7. Antman and the Wasp
  8. Captain America Civil War
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy
  10. Thor: The Dark War

Hang Tight Just a Little Longer…

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

Vaccines are rolling out and the weather is getting warm again. I myself am fully vaccinated and feeling the pull of a social life. I miss going out to eat. I miss concerts and bars and hanging out with friends. I miss going on dates and seeing movies and attending classes on-campus. I miss not wearing a mask everywhere. Simply put? I miss life.

But I also miss the grandmother I lost to COVID. I miss not feeling like I was risking my fragile health every time I step out the door. I miss my elderly clients not feeling scared and trapped in their own homes.

It is so important, now more than ever, to take COVID precautions seriously. We are getting more and more people vaccinated. We are close to a future where, seemingly, real life could exist again. I’ve begun to make tentative plans for the summer and fall. I’ve dreamed about a trip to the coast with friends where I don’t have to worry if my actions are selfish. 

I feel, though, like I’m going crazy. People I know are travelling. I know someone who went to Hawaii, someone who went to Mexico, someone who went to California. I know people who are having large dinner parties, who are going drinking with friends, who are wearing masks less and less. I’m staggered by this. We’re so close! These actions are putting us farther and farther away from our ideal COVID situation. It feels stunningly selfish, especially those who are travelling to other states and countries. I’m going crazy in isolation as much as anyone else. I’m an extrovert who thrives on social interaction — but I refuse to give in to these selfish actions. 

There are so many ways to safely do things. Order take-out! Sit six feet apart, masks on, outside with your loved ones! Go for a countryside drive instead of traveling across the country! There are plenty of places that are taking wonderful COVID precautions: tattoo parlors, barber shops, grocery stores. And it is important to support local business. But hold on just a little longer, everyone! Our normal lives are closer than we know!