Reaching Higher for Higher Education

Did you know our WALSH teams have been building on university campuses since the 1970s? Our first project was for Washington State University in 1975, followed closely by a family housing project for University of Washington in 1980. From there, we have built up (pun intended) a solid portfolio of Higher Education work in the Pacific Northwest, completing projects for Portland State University, Portland Community College, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and even a renovation of the iconic Kibbie Dome for Idaho State University. We know how to build spaces in which students can unlock their full learning potential.

While the last couple years have presented unique challenges, we continued to pay close attention to how we provide value to our clients and partners,  ensuring they are taken care of. This an effort all of our employees partake in, with Business Development Manager – Oregon, Matt Godt, and Senior Project Manager-Oregon, Aaron Elliott leading the charge on the higher education market sector. Both have many years of experience executing projects for our higher ed clients and are focused on ensuring our relationships remain strong. Backed by the years of close ties fostered by Vice President / General Manager – Oregon, Ryan Wilde, we have a solid knowledgeable and experienced team.

Making connections

Our company is led by our values and is mission-driven. A passion for improving our communities is at the heart of our success. All of this relies on how we treat people and how we nurture our partnerships. Relationships matter, education matters, quality matters.

In early 2020, when the roads were empty and most meetings were held in front of a computer in the comfort of our homes, the Higher Ed team sought out more conversation and more connection. Virtual meeting after virtual meeting, they attempted to re-connect, initiate new conversations, discuss upcoming and past projects, and reenergize our footing in the Higher Education world.  The recent addition of Patti Miles as a project manager in the Portland office has further strengthened partner relationships.

Patti joined WALSH with many industry connections made from her storied background, first in architecture, then on the owner’s representative side. As an architectural professional Patti has worked side by side with colleges and universities, such as Pacific University-Forest Grove and Clackamas Community College – which entailed five years of projects under one a $111 million dollar bond. These projects included a myriad of different programs from housing to auditoriums, academic, student services, science, and high-tech simulation rooms to facility/campus upgrades. Now on our team, that collective experience, knowledge and history creates a well-rounded approach to our projects.


“When it comes to construction, we’ve been on all sides of the table and will bring that collective knowledge to our projects.”

– Patti Miles, Assoc. AIA, WALSH Project Manager


Demonstrated experience

Another large catalyst for this renewed market vigor is the recent completion of two important projects for our university partners.

Linfield University has been a trusted partner of WALSH since the turn of the century. In 2020, Linfield acquired the former University of Western States campus in Northeast Portland as the new location for their nationally recognized School of Nursing, known as the oldest nursing education program in the Pacific Northwest. In just six months, WALSH completed renovations in five buildings on the new campus, creating innovative learning spaces and more usable space for faculty and students.

Linfield University’s School of Nursing

The fully revamped Science and Facilities building now includes four high-fidelity simulation suites with a total of eight beds. These rooms are outfitted just as a typical hospital room would be, including full headwalls and life-like medical mannequins used in training and testing simulations for students. Each lab is also equipped with cameras and microphones that feed back to a Control Room where instructors sit behind one-way glass and manipulate the mannequin to simulate real medical situations. This audio/visual information is then transmitted back to one of ten new Debrief Rooms where professors and other students can observe and evaluate these situations and information in real time, allowing for a valuable learning interaction for all involved

In a second building, East Hall, WALSH built two large, mid-fidelity classrooms with a total of 24 stations where students can receive instruction and work together in a hospital ward-like setting, along with the construction of new computer labs, offices, standard classrooms, restroom facilities, and conference rooms. The renovation at the new campus increased the capacity of Linfield’s high-fidelity simulation labs by 700% and the realistic learning lab spaces now provide powerful interactive opportunities for Linfield students to become highly skilled healthcare professionals.


The demand for nurses is increasing, and our school is growing to meet that demand. Our new, 20-acre, full-service campus in northeast Portland is designed to support student learning at the highest level and encourage collaboration.”

– Dr. Kim Jones, Dean of the School of Nursing, Linfield College


Opening its doors on February 8, 2021, this new campus successfully and elegantly expanded the oldest nursing education program in the Pacific Northwest to adapt to today’s student needs.

Even more recently, WALSH completed a project at Jefferson Hall for Pacific University-Forest Grove in the summer of 2021. This project was a renovation of over 5,000 square-feet of instructional and office space on the third floor.

Pacific University’s Jefferson Hall, home to the School of Optometry

Home to Pacific’s nationally recognized School of Optometry, Jefferson Hall was a design-build partnership with Mahlum Architects and inici group. Our WALSH team created learning lab, classroom, and exam spaces for optometry students and much needed offices for faculty, which were missing in the original design. WALSH worked closely with the School of Optometry to conduct a total interior renovation which included a new set of gender-neutral restrooms, upgraded mechanical and electrical systems, state-of-the-art audio-visual system, exterior window and brick replacement, and roof coating.

The result was a functional and modern space, completed with the help of design-build partners Catena Consulting Engineers, ABD Engineering & Design, American Heating, Merit Electric, and LightWerks.

Though preconstruction work for the project started in 2020, it was put on pause for a year, due to the pandemic, as so many things were at the time. The team then reconvened in 2021 to finish preconstruction, get the work started and proceed to complete all scopes over the summer break so it was all ready for the students by the start of the school year.


Looking forward

Continuing the momentum created by the projects above, our team also has three more exciting University projects currently underway for repeat clients, Linfield University, Lewis and Clark College, and Pacific University-Forest Grove. Let’s take a look at these projects in a little more detail.


Linfield University – W.M. Keck Science Center

Linfield University’s W.M. Keck Science Center – rendering courtesy of SRG Partnership

Linfield University’s Science Building Addition, now more formally known as the W.M. Keck Science Center, is a beautiful project designed by SRG Partnership with consultant help from KPFF Consulting Engineers, PAE, RDF, Lango Hansen, and ABD Engineering & Design.  This new center, named after the W.M. Keck Foundation, a significant contributor to the school, will be a state of the art upgrade to Linfield’s current Biology, Chemistry and Physics spaces on their main campus. Included in the scope is the full demolition of the existing 12,000 square-foot Mac Hall and addition of a new 24,000 square-foot, two-story above-ground steel structure building on top of a basement level; a full gut and rehabilitation of the 25,000 square-foot Graf Hall adjacent to Mac Hall, with a 11,200 square-foot steel over slab-on-grade addition; and some renovations to Murdock Hall covering around 4,000 square-feet.

Staying strictly on schedule, preconstruction began in June of 2020, followed by the start of construction right around a year later, after classes ended for the 2021 school year. Coming out of the ground spent a considerable amount of time required a large focus on the foundational basement level while concurrently working through full interior demolition of Graf, the team is now erecting the steel structure and is well on its way to provide a beautiful new space to Linfield by December of 2022. Check out this live feed of the project as it’s being built.


“From anticipating design moves from sketches, to making sure we are covered for scopes of work that are experiencing escalation, WALSH has been absolutely phenomenal to work with.”

– Lisa Petterson AIA, Principal, SRG Partnership

Lewis & Clark College – Stewart Hall and Odell Hall Renovations

A design-build project with ZGF Architects, this started as a prioritization exercise on three separate buildings in May of 2021.  Lewis & Clark’s new leadership members recognized the need for some critical maintenance and upgrades on their existing Stewart, Odell and Akin residence halls, originally built in the 1950’s. Prioritization efforts showed that more could be done on Stewart and Odell by eliminating Akin from the overall scope of work, so that is the direction the team went. As connecting residence halls, these buildings are two-stories tall over basement space, covering roughly 50,000 square-feet. The scope includes major mechanical and plumbing re-work along with upgrades to all-user restrooms and lounges, upgraded envelope and cladding on portions of the buildings and a refresh on finishes, topped off with a completed re-roof. Also included in the scope of this project was the incorporation of a 2,000 square-foot Campus Living Office renovation to the Northeast side of Odell. The design-build nature of the projects allows us to wrap up construction on the re-roof this summer with the remaining construction efforts starting in December of 2022.


Pacific University Forest Grove – Scott Hall

During the summer of 2021, Pacific University reached out to WALSH to help provide estimates on several campus projects they had been eyeing for several years, one of which is Scott Hall.  To move forward with a major renovation, seismic and ADA upgrades are required. WALSH’s QA/QC team is working with Catena to develop strategies to implement a cost-effective seismic solution. Another design-build project with Mahlum Architects and inici group, programming work started in the first part of 2022, anticipating the confirmation of scope by the second quarter of 2022.

Though we are proud of all the projects we have built and are beginning, we are always looking to improve and expand our knowledge and experience.


What we have learned

Each higher education campus has unique aspects, crafted to draw students to attend. Comfort, state of the art facilities, high tech learning centers and creative spaces in which to learn and engage with each other all play a role in the overall success for these campuses. We at WALSH enjoy the entire process of bringing these spaces to life, while honoring the historical aspects of the institution. Applying innovation, sustainability, and highest quality, while remaining budget and schedule conscious, our teams are committed to helping today’s student find a place to thrive.