January 07, 2010, 3:49AMWhile construction proceeds on the new north wing of the Shriners Hospital for Children, hospital officials are moving ahead with plans to revamp facades of the older southern wing.
Work could begin as early as next summer to replace the existing synthetic stucco with sleek metal panels similar to those planned for the new addition. The makeover will give the long, horizontal building a more unified and sometimes glowing appearance from downtown and Portland's east side, where it looms as the most visible structure on the densely packed medical campus.
"It was a fairly unremarkable building when it was built," says Jeff Stuhr, chairman of the Portland Design Commission that is reviewing the proposal.
The Homestead Neighborhood Association, always vigilant about traffic congestion generated by the medical complex, was comfortable with the hospital expansion because it includes additional parking. The Shriners don't expect any objection to altering the appearance of the old wing, either.
"Actually, they're thrilled," says Kent Duffy, an architect on the project. "We're carrying out what we always intended to do."