NCNM Campus Update – March 5, 2009

After the initial flurry of meetings to set campus expansion plans into motion comes the calm before the storm. Tear-down of old structures and renovating and building-out new ones will be happening before long. The apparent quiet taking place now contradicts what’s happening behind the scenes.

Library Director Rick Severson and Vice President of Advancement Susan Hunter met with the architectural firm Henneberry Eddy for a preliminary discussion concerning plans for NCNM’s proposed new library, which may be built adjacent to the proposed new clinic. Severson noted that the discussion was strictly informational. The potential site of the new library, a two-story structure, is approximately 6,700 square feet (nearly 50 percent larger than our current library space).

Moving the library project forward depends on successful fundraising to pay for a feasibility study for the proposed design (including a cost estimate, architectural sketches and models). Severson said, “The tentative goal to open a new library is fall, 2011—but everything hinges on fundraising.” Severson and Hunter have submitted a grant for the feasibility study to the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

“We’re dreaming – and dreaming BIG,” Hunter said. She said that the plans for the library are just one part of a larger vision that President Schleich and NCNM administrators have for the campus going forward. Hunter notes, “The new property offers so much potential for our future. A larger library is just one idea. Imagine a new research facility!

Hunter adds, “There’s so much more we’re envisioning: a large auditorium, a cafeteria, a nutritional kitchen for our students, an herb garden, a nature-cure spa! NCNM is working hard to find ways to bring all of our dreams into fruition.”

According to NCNM Director of Facilities & Operations Keith North, design plans for the new clinic have been sent with a request for proposal to four Portland building contractors. The proposals are due back on Friday, March 6. North says that he expects that by mid-March NCNM will have finished reviewing the proposals and have a decision on a contractor, so that building prep work and inside wall demolition can begin as planned before the end of the month.

NCNM has been partnering for more than a year with the Portland Department of Transportation and the South Portland-Lair Hill Neighborhood Association to address long-term transportation issues in the area. The discussions are critical for the local community and for NCNM’s students, faculty, staff and clinic patients.

The purchase of the new property has heightened street and traffic safety concerns and access to campus. First-time visitors to NCNM are often challenged in locating the school. New students and other visitors to the campus immediately learn that finding NCNM requires persistence. Expansion plans make “way-finding” signage to the NCNM campus an especially urgent priority due to the greatly increased volume of traffic coming to the new clinic. Presently the Pettygrove and First Avenue clinics handle approximately 18,000 patient visits per year (in addition to the 22,000 patient visits seen through the community clinics).

There are a variety of constraints to improve street signage, as well as motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian access to campus. Some of the limitations are complicated by NCNM’s location–in a geographically isolated area at the end of the Ross Island Bridge, surrounded on three sides by Oregon Department of Transportation-controlled highways and routes.

NCNM recently met with traffic engineers from Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to discuss NCNM’ s current and future transportation issues—chiefly safety, access and signage.

Any proposed signage on ODOT routes cannot be considered without an engineering analysis focusing on driver safety. Criteria for traffic directional signage to colleges or universities are based on the total enrollment of full-and part-time students; to be considered, a college must have an enrollment of 2500 students. NCNM has a total enrollment of 500 students.

The engineers agreed, however, to conduct a feasibility study considering the following options:

  • Removing the barrier that prohibits northbound traffic on Naito Parkway to turn onto the campus on Hooker Street. If approved, this would require curb-cuts to open the access to Hooker and line-striping changes.
  • Adding prominent signage to indicate directions toward Kelly Street and Porter Street.


NCNM continues to meet with the Portland Department of Transportation to consider other signage in the area. Considerations for transportation changes will require a consolidated partnership between NCNM and the South Waterfront-Lair Hill community.

In case you’re wondering, the “little Red House,” the Victorian home on Water Street directly across from the new property on Corbett, was recently rented by NCNM’s property manager, Bluestone & Hockley, to a nonprofit group.

Watch for the next installment of NCNM’s Campus Update!