Oregon State moves site of proposed arts complex

Jul 5, 2019

Oregon State University says it’s moving forward with a new location for a planned arts complex on its Corvallis campus.

When OSU announced the project two years ago, the school said it would involve a dramatic renovation and expansion of the existing LaSells Stewart Center. It would have required curtailing the use of the building for up to two years. That plan has been scrapped in favor of building a new arts complex a few blocks away at the corner of 15th Street and Washington Way.

Oregon State spokesman Steve Clark says the school decided to avoid a long-term shutdown of LaSells. And there was also a cost factor. “We found that our plans to renovate that about-40-year-old facility would be more expensive than originally thought," he said.

The new arts complex will include more intimate performance spaces than LaSells, which features a 1,200 auditorium.  The new complex will have a 500-seat concert hall and a smaller, 200-seat "box theater."

The LaSells Stewart Center will continue to host large attendance events as well as conferences and other community gatherings.

The LaSells Stewart Center will continue to host large attendance events and conferences.
Credit Oregon State University

The new complex will be adjacent to an active set of railroad tracks. Clark says about seven trains a day pass by, but he doesn't expect them to impact the venue. “We believe that our architects and engineers are designing features and sound barriers within the complex’s engineering to reduce that presence of sound." he said.

The estimated price tag for the complex is $70 million. The school says an anonymous donor has provided $25 million of that. The university is actively fundraising, but is also asking the Oregon legislature to fund at least $30 million in the form of a construction bond to be approved during the 2020 legislative session.

“We feel very confident that this will be something that the legislature will look at with a positive eye,” said Clark. “If for some reason they delay that, it could affect our schedule.”

Groundbreaking is scheduled for June 2020 with an expected opening in the summer of 2022.