‘Moving full tilt’ to upgrade auditorium

First-class performance space being created during $18M redevelopment of Washington High School.

The Daily Journal of Commerce reporter, Jeff McDonald, recently wrote the following article on the Washington High School’s upgrade of the auditorium:

In February, Venerable Group President Craig Kelly had doubts about how Washington High School’s 500-seat auditorium could become a concert venue similar to the Crystal Ballroom or the Alberta Rose Theatre. But he is now moving ahead with plans to retain the space’s historic character and create “the best music venue in the metro area.”

The 500-seat auditorium in the 90-year-old Washington High School is being transformed into a viable concert venue via soundproofing and other improvements.
The 500-seat auditorium in the 90-year-old Washington High School is being transformed into a viable concert venue via soundproofing and other improvements.

Venerable, the leader of the $18 million renovation to redevelop the 90-year-old building in Southeast Portland, has hired an acoustical engineer to improve and contain sounds within the auditorium.

“The goal is not to disturb tenants who are not part of the auditorium,” Kelly said. “We’re very excited about it and we’re moving full tilt toward a renovation.”

The auditorium will not change significantly, he said. The stage will become a bit smaller, but the sloped floor and seating will remain.

A new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be installed, as will a specially engineered ceiling system to prevent sounds from traveling between floors. Other steps are being taken as well, Kelly said.

“We’re spending a small fortune on these doors to ensure soundproofing,” he said. “It creates a better sound inside and helps deaden sound from leaving.”

Kelly is expecting to be able to announce by August the operator responsible for some of the tenant improvement finishes. He is hoping to turn the auditorium over to the new tenant by the end of the year.

The rest of the project will finish by November 1, Kelly said. The rooftop deck and an elevator shaft are being framed this summer.

All four floors have drawn strong interest from potential office tenants, he said. The ground floor also could have a restaurant, a coffee shop and a bar. People can learn more about the project and leasing opportunities at www.washingtonhighschoolpdx.com