Pacific Northwest College of Art

Coordinates: 45°31′37″N 122°40′41″W / 45.5269°N 122.6781°W / 45.5269; -122.6781
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Pacific Northwest College of Art
The 511 Federal Building in Portland, Oregon, in 2015, now housing the Pacific Northwest College of Art
The 511 Federal Building was built in 1916–18 as a post office and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now PNCA's main campus, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design.
TypePrivate art school
Parent institution
Willamette University
Endowment$14.7 million[1]
PresidentDavid Ellis (interim)[2]
DeanKate Copeland
Academic staff
94 (2017)[3]
Students642 (2019)[3]
Undergraduates506 (2019)[3]
Postgraduates136 (2019)[3]
Other students
1,400 CE (2016)[3]
Location, ,
United States

45°31′37″N 122°40′41″W / 45.5269°N 122.6781°W / 45.5269; -122.6781

The Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) is an art school of Willamette University and is located in Portland, Oregon. Established in 1909, the art school grants Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees and graduate degrees including the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. It has an enrollment of about 500 students. The college merged with Willamette University in 2021.[4]

The college has 12 Bachelor of Fine Arts majors[5] and eight graduate programs, a dual-degree MA/MFA option, and a Post-Baccalaureate program within the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies.[6] PNCA also provides Community Education in art and design to the local community.[7]


Founded in 1909 as part of the Portland Art Museum, the school was originally known as the Museum Art School with Anna Belle Crocker serving as the head of the school;[8] Kate Cameron Simmons was the first hired teacher.[9] After the Pietro Belluschi designed home of the museum opened in 1932, the school moved into the upper floors of the building.[10] In 1981, the school changed its name to Pacific Northwest College of Art in order to reflect its independence from the museum.[10] The independence was solidified in April 1994 when the college formally split from the art museum and was incorporated as a legal entity distinct from the museum.[10]

In 1998, the college moved to its former campus in Portland's Pearl District.[10] PNCA hired Thomas Manley in 2003 as president of the institution, replacing Sally Lawrence.[11] Manley proposed a plan to the school's board in 2004 to expand the college and move towards Portland's North Park Blocks.[10] The plan received a boost in 2007 when Hallie Ford donated $15 million to the school.[10]

The school purchased the building housing the college in 2008, and also that year was given the 511 Federal Building by the federal government as part of a surplus building program.[11] In 2009, the then independent Museum of Contemporary Craft moved into the DeSoto Building, which drained the museum's finances.[10] PNCA loaned the museum money leading to a partnership and possible merger.[10]

In 2012, the school announced they would centralize their programs in Portland's Old Town at the 511 Federal Building.[11] PNCA opened their first residence hall in August 2013 at a cost of $7.3 million, called ArtHouse.[12] As part of its move to the Old Town area, the college sold its main building in the Pearl District in 2013 for $11.75 million.[13] The school secured $20 million in loans from the Portland Development Commission in November 2013 to fund the renovations.[14] Renovations were completed in January 2015, with classes starting at the new campus in February 2015.[15][16]

In late 2018, the college briefly explored merging with the Oregon College of Art and Craft but they decided against the merger.[17] Two years later, PNCA announced plans to merge with Willamette University to become the fourth college within the university.[18] On June 30, 2021, the merger was finalized.[4] PNCA will retain its campus in downtown Portland at the 511 Federal Building and will offer classes for Willamette University students as well as allow art students to take classes at the Willamette's Salem campus.[4]

Campus and facilities[edit]

The former 511 Federal Building relettered for PNCA

As of February 2015, PNCA's main campus building, known as the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design, is located at 511 NW Broadway in northwest Portland, in the Pearl District.[19] Known previously as the 511 Federal Building, it is a former post office that is on the National Register of Historic Places.


The college opened its first student housing in 2013 with the completion of ArtHouse at NW Park and Couch.[10] The six-story building has 50 apartments plus retail space on the ground floor.[10][20] Designed by architect Thomas Robinson, the project cost $7.3 million to build the modernistic structure.[10] ArtHouse was built where Powell's Technical Books was located and is managed by College Housing Northwest.[20]

Exhibition spaces[edit]

PNCA's exhibition department is the Center for Contemporary Art & Culture (CCAC), which is a platform for cultural production including exhibition, lecture, performance, and publication. CCAC is directed by Mack McFarland and has exhibited artists including Wangechi Mutu,[21] Cauleen Smith,[22] James Rosenquist, and David Horvitz.[23] CCAC has two galleries, the 511 Gallery (formerly the Philip Feldman Gallery + Project Space) and the Dorothy Lemelson Innovation Studio. Additional exhibition spaces include Holt Gallery, Gallery 157, Gallery B10, and New Commons. The Lodge Gallery @ Allied Works Architecture host regular exhibitions.

Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design[edit]

In March, 2008, PNCA announced the U.S. Department of Education and the General Services Administration approved PNCA's application to make the 511 Federal Building a permanent part of the school's campus.[10][11] Located on the North Park Blocks, the building was renovated for use by the college in 2014–15.[16] After the $30 million in renovations were complete in February 2015, the building was renamed as the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design.[24][16]


When the college was independent, it was accredited by both the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).[3] PNCA was affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Art Resources Consortium Northwest, the Oregon Independent College Association, and the Foundations in Art: Theory and Education.[25]

Programs and degrees[edit]

PNCA offers 12 undergraduate programs and eight graduate level programs.[3] The college offers Bachelor of Fine Art degrees in majors including: Animated Arts, Communication Design, General Fine Art, Illustration, Interactive Design, Intermedia, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Video and Sound, and Creative Writing.[26] It also offers minors in Art and Ecology, Art History, Ceramics, Creative Writing, Drawing, Fashion, Game, and Graphic Design.[27]

Graduate programs within the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies include a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Visual Studies, an MFA in Applied Craft and Design, an MFA in Collaborative Design, a Master of Arts in Critical Studies, a Master of Arts in Design Systems, an MFA in Print Media, a low residency MFA in Visual Studies, and a Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing, as well as a dual MA/MFA degree program.[6]

In addition to degrees, the college offers four certificate programs in fine arts, graphic design, digital publishing, and illustration through its Community Education program.[28] PNCA also offers Community Education classes for youth, high school students, and adults that serve more than 1,500 students annually.[3]


In 2019 there were 506 undergraduate students and 136 graduate students at PNCA. The continuing education program at that time served approximately 1,450 students part-time each year.[3]


PNCA employs 94 faculty members (some full- and more primarily part-time/adjunct labor).[3] Most faculty are working artists and designers, many showing both nationally and internationally.

Notable faculty include:

  • Director of the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies and Founding Chair of MFA in Visual Studies Program MK Guth who was curated into the 2008 Whitney Biennial.[29]
  • Lucy Cotter, curator of the Dutch Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.
  • Monica Drake, award-winning author, designed and launched the BFA in Writing; initiated and launched the Native Voices Speaker Series, funded primarily by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.
  • Sharita Towne, artist who has been awarded Creative Capital and Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights grants.
  • Kristan Kennedy, award-winning artist and Artistic Director and Curator of Visual Art at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) who also oversees the Precipice Fund, a grant for artist-run organizations and collaborative projects in Portland, Oregon, as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program.
  • Erin Boberg Doughton, Artistic Director and Curator of Performance for PICA Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.
  • Martin French, award-winning illustrator who recently received the 2019 Patrick Nagel Award for Excellence from the Society of Illustrators.
  • Jay Ponteri, Program Director of the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing, whose memoir, Wedlocked, took the Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Nonfiction at the 2014 Oregon Book Awards.
  • Aeron Bergman, Chair of the Low-Residency MFA in Visual Studies, and Alejandra Salinas who as artist duo Bergman and Salinas have been included in the 4th Athens Biennale and Bergen Assembly Triennial, among many others.

Global Studios[edit]

Global Studios offers off-campus educational opportunities within the United States and abroad. It includes short-term international instructor-led programs, international summer programs, and international internships in Tokyo, Dakar, and Pont-Aven, France. The semester-long programs include International Semester Exchange, Service Learning, AICAD Mobility Program, and New York Studio Program. International Semester Exchanges take place in France and Australia.[30]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2011. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2011 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2010 to FY 2011" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers. January 17, 2012. p. 21. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-29. Retrieved March 22, 2012.
  2. ^ "PNCA - College Leadership". Archived from the original on 2019-04-14.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Fast Facts". Pacific Northwest College of Art. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Willamette University celebrates completion of merger with Pacific Northwest College of Art". 30 June 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-01.
  5. ^ "PNCA - Undergraduate Programs". PNCA. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b "PNCA - Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies". PNCA. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  7. ^ "PNCA - Community Education". PNCA. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Centennial". About. PNCA. Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  9. ^ "Art Association to Have School" The Oregon Daily Journal (July 3, 1909): 12. via Newspapers.comOpen access icon
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Redden, Jim (September 5, 2013). "Arts campus rises from creative thinking". Portland Tribune. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d Culverwell, Wendy (May 3, 2012). "Manley leading PNCA's Old Town charge". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  12. ^ Hottman, Sara (August 28, 2013). "Pacific Northwest College of Art's new student housing designed with visual artists in mind". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  13. ^ Njus, Elliot (October 1, 2013). "Pacific Northwest College of Art building sold to Security Properties of Seattle". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  14. ^ Njus, Elliot (November 13, 2013). "Portland Development Commission approves $20 million loan package for Pacific Northwest College of Art headquarters". The Oregonian. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  15. ^ Culverwell, Wendy (February 3, 2014). "PNCA passes $11M fundraising mark as construction begins on its new campus". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  16. ^ a b c Stevens, Suzanne (February 2, 2015). "PNCA students settle into gleaming new North Park Blocks Campus". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  17. ^ Wang, Amy (December 14, 2018). "No merger for Pacific Northwest College of Art, Oregon College of Art and Craft". Retrieved December 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Oregonian/OregonLive, Jeff Manning | The (2020-09-17). "Willamette University to merge with struggling Pacific Northwest College of Art". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  19. ^ "Historical Timeline". Pacific Northwest College of Art. Archived from the original on April 14, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Culverwell, Wendy (August 30, 2013). "ArtHouse advances the state of student housing". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  21. ^ Kook-Anderson, Grace (March 9, 2016). "Wangechi Mutu and the revolt of the female form". Oregon Arts Watch. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  22. ^ Green, Kate. "Cauleen Smith". Artforum. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  23. ^ "David Horvitz Talk". PNCA You Tube. You Tube. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  24. ^ Njus, Elliot (June 2, 2012). "Pacific Northwest College of Art unveils $30 million renovation plan for 511 Building". The Oregonian. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  25. ^ "Fast Facts". About. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  26. ^ "PNCA Undergraduate Studies". PNCA. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  27. ^ "PNCA - Minors". PNCA. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  28. ^ "Studio Certificate Program". Programs. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Archived from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  29. ^ Row, D.K. (March 9, 2008). "New Yorkers connect with MK Guth's braid project at Whitney Biennial". The Oregonian. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  30. ^ "Global Studios: International and Off-Campus Studies". Programs. Pacific Northwest College of Art. Archived from the original on February 16, 2014. Retrieved February 16, 2014.

External links[edit]