Historic college reinvents historic library

Northup Hall is getting a second life.

The former library will house four academic departments and the school’s new Center for the Northwest, dedicated to creative research and outreach that serves the regional community.

Designed by prominent American architect Pietro Belluschi, Northup Hall was constructed in 1936 and served as the intellectual heart of the campus for 67 years before it was shuttered in 2003.

The restored 25,000 square-foot building will be certified LEED-Silver and will feature a light tower, smart heating-and-cooling technology and interactive classrooms. Two light-filled reading rooms will be restored to their earlier elegance, and original design elements, such as arched windows and ceilings, tall glass doors and fireplaces, will be maintained.

The facility will house an “academic neighborhood” of business, economics, English and philosophy, along with gathering places for students and faculty.

“Our goal is to foster interdisciplinary cross-fertilization,” says President Thomas Hellie. “We want to give students a broad foundation in the liberal arts while educating them in the principles and practices of pragmatic fields like business. As an example, there is value in helping business students understand the roots of ethical traditions.”

Northup Hall will also house the Center for the Northwest, whose mission is to help forge sustainable communities by tying research and service learning directly to the region.

Research is already underway that takes advantage of Linfield’s unique location in the heart of Oregon’s wine country, with researchers analyzing the effectiveness of wine industry public relations and gathering oral histories of early years in the wine industry. Other faculty and students will continue to conduct regionally-focused research and outreach activities that address issues such as community health, sustainable food systems, invasive species and state politics.

“The new center underscores our institutional commitment to social responsibility, with scholarship focused on issues of importance to the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Northwest,” Hellie says.

“Our students will have the opportunity to explore practical solutions related not only to regional issues, but to the global challenges we all face, regardless of whether we live in McMinnville or London or Beijing,” he says. “Many of these issues are manifested in the people and environment of the Willamette Valley, and this intellectual inquiry and outreach will give our students a head start on professional careers and callings after graduation.”

The restoration and redesign will be completed by the Walsh Construction Company, based in Portland, and the $8.23 million project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2011.

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