Pauling plans get no prize from Oregon commission

CORVALLIS — Linus Pauling's place in history is secure. A building named for him, however, has flunked with the Corvallis Historic Resources Commission.

The Linus Pauling Science Center, named for the Oregon State University graduate who won Nobel prizes for chemistry in 1954 and peace in 1962, is the most expensive academic building ever planned for OSU. It would be located in the university's historic district, which was created last summer, and is the first such district on any college campus in Oregon.

In rejecting the plans, the commission said the structure would be incompatible with the design and materials in nearby historic buildings.

Bruce Osen, the commission chairman, said the proposed building would be closer to the street than nearby structures, and its loading dock too prominent. Commission members also found fault with the main door, solar shades on the exterior of the building and a metal screen wall that hides laboratory mechanical systems.

Some commissioners also said the building lacked architectural interest, Osen said.

The City Council will decide June 1 whether to overturn the commission's denial of the $62.5 million building.

Bob Richardson, city of Corvallis associate planner, said the city's historic standards are not clearly mapped out. "There's a lot of discretion involved in deciding what's compatible and what's incompatible," he said.

The City Council held a public hearing on an appeal earlier this month, with the few who testified all in favor of overturning the commission.

If the appeal is upheld June 1, the groundbreaking could be in mid-June, after graduation. Construction would take about two years.

Vincent Martorello, the OSU facilities services director, said modern and sustainable building elements can work in the historic district, and he's confident the council will side with the appeal.

He said new plans have shortened the problematic loading dock and moved the building a little to the east. "I disagree (with the denial), but we're still trying to respond to their concerns," he told the Gazette-Times newspaper.

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