Agriculture Hall was the largest structure at Oregon Agricultural College when completed in 1913. Spanning the length between two quads, it was built in three parts: Agronomy to the north, Horticulture to the south, and a central Administrative Building with animal husbandry, entomology, bacteriology, and industrial pedagogy.
By any measure, Agriculture Hall was an impressive building, with large windows, high ceilings, and wide corridors. In his 1909 master plan for campus, John Charles Olmstead envisioned “a central door and an imposing porch on the west side of the middle mass of the new Agriculture Hall, so it would be a double fronted building, as its relations to the two quadrangles would demand.” The campus continued to grow, and today Strand Ag Hall stands at the center of the OSU National Historic District. But the imposing porch on the west side was never completed.
In October 2015, OSU celebrated the completion of Olmstead’s vision, along with a $24.9 million rehabilitation of the stately Strand Agriculture Hall. Standing on the new West Portico, overlooking the Memorial Union quad, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney recognized OSU’s commitment to safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency.
“Strand was built eight decades before we knew just how vulnerable Oregon is to the mighty quake — which is coming,” Courtney said. “[This renovation] is an example to others who must take action to make their own buildings safer.”
Doug Reimer, of the Portland-based Henneberry Eddy Architects who designed the Strand renovations, said he was equally proud of the accessibility upgrades. “Now everybody uses the same common path,” he said. People in wheelchairs are not isolated; instead, ramps encircle art galleries and collaboration spaces.
Reimer said the architects tore out decades of “shoe horning” to reveal the good bones of the building, including more than 460 original wood windows that they repaired and rehung with new sashweights and weatherstripping. All new wiring, plumbing, and heating systems increase safety and energy efficiency.
Dan Arp, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, is “thrilled to see the building restored and renewed far beyond its former glory.” From the beginning, Strand Agriculture Hall has been home to the agricultural sciences. “We’ve grown beyond these three original buildings,” he said. “Today we have laboratories across campus, and research, teaching, and Extension facilities across the state. But this is our home and it’s now an open, accessible, and beautiful space to invite people to explore agricultural sciences.”