The Pacific Northwest College of Art announced it has received a $15 million donation from local philanthropist Hallie Ford, which the school will use mostly to fund a visiting artist program.
The donation dwarfs PNCA's previous high of about $500,000 a few years ago. And while the funds won't be used on architecture per se, the donation speaks to the school's increasing presence in the community. Under the leadership of president Tom Manley, PNCA is striving mightily to form the heart of Portland's art and design scene.
As such, there's plenty of reason to imagine what the future might hold for PNCA in terms of brick and mortar.
One of PNCA's ongoing collaborators and supporters is local star architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works, who has conducted master planning for the school. One would think Allied would have an inside track if the school were to design and build new facilities.
At the same time, PNCA has what I think is a very cool building in the Pearl District, a converted warehouse space which Holst Architecture (including then-employee Randy Higgins) designed several years ago. PNCA doesn't own the building, though. It's owned by a member of the Goodman family, the parking magnates. That ought to change. I'd like to think some kind of deal could be worked out where the building is sold to the school at below-market value.
PNCA has also considered moving its campus to elsewhere in Northwest Portland, such as Old Town or the northern Pearl District near the Fremont Bridge. This would be exciting in that it'd give the school a chance to express itself and custom-design its digs, but I think they've got an ideal location now. The question to me is more one of how PNCA could leverage some of the nearby space for expansion down the road. And might we eventually, finally, get a new Allied Works building in Portland out of it?
Either way, I think the Pearl District is much better for having a kind of institutional/artistic ground zero, something to balance out all the condos and to really act as a gathering place for hometown and out-of-town creative minds.