Before he went on to become one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, the painter Mark Rothko spent his early years in Portland, where he went to Lincoln High School, attended classes at the Portland Art Museum and even had his first solo exhibition there in 1933. Now, the museum has announced his name will come home to christen the new Mark Rothko Pavilion, alongside a rotating roster of his major works.
Designed by the prestigious Chicago firm Vinci Hamp Architects, the pavilion will be a modern, light-filled building that will serve as a new entrance that connects the museum’s original building, designed by Pietro Belluschi, to the Masonic Temple-turned-Mark Building’s Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art.
“The last time we looked to the future was in 1930 with the Belluschi building — everything else has been an expansion or a renovation,” museum president Brian Ferriso told OPB. “So we wanted to have a structure that was surgically placed between the two buildings but that also looked to the future in a progressive, contemporary way.”
Taking the place of the current sculpture garden, the three-story, 30,000-square-foot Mark Rothko Pavilion will house new gallery space, a third-floor sculpture garden and roof deck, a new Education and Design Lab, and most important in Ferriso’s eyes, space for public programming.
“We’ve evolved programmatically,” said Ferriso. “For example, the family days that we offer, the free access, the number of school kids that use the museum, our partnership with Literary Arts and Wordstock — all of these things need the space to breathe and to function at the highest level.”
To pay for the pavilion, the museum announced a $75 million capital and endowment campaign — an ambitious goal that’s nearly twice the cost of the museum’s last capital campaign in 2005 to remodel the Mark Building. Ferriso says it has already raised $22.15 million, including an $8 million lead gift from an anonymous donor and $5 million each from the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation and from Nani Warren and the Swigert-Warren Foundation.
“It’s unprecedented,” said Ferriso. “The last campaign was one $5 million gift, with everything else below that.”
The museum plans to break ground in 2018, with hopes of finishing in 2020 or early 2021.
To reinforce the pavilions name, as well as celebrate the role the museum played in Rothko’s life, his children, Christopher Rothko and Kate Rothko Prizel, will lend one or more significant works by their father each year on a rotating basis for the next two decades, to be housed in a remodeled gallery next to the pavilion in the Jubitz Center.
“Our family is thrilled to enter into this partnership with the Museum,” Christopher Rothko said in a press release. “Portland played a formative role in my father’s youth, and we are eager to share these works with the public and give Rothko a more active role in the vibrant cultural life of this city.”