Portland’s South Waterfront District doesn’t look like an industrial site any longer, especially now that the first stages of the new Collaborative Life Sciences Building & Skourtes Tower has opened with a modern take on medical learning and research.

The new $295 million project gives life to Oregon Health Sciences University’s new Schnitzer Campus, south of the Marquam Bridge and accessible by streetcar, Portland Aerial Tram and the new light rail line over the non-vehicle Tilikum Crossing bridge, currently under construction.

The Collaborative building and tower combines resources from OHSU, Oregon State University and Portland State University to offer new health care partnerships, teaching opportunities and research in what has become the largest academic building in the state.

Designed by Portland’s SERA Architects and Los Angeles’ CO Architects, the 652,000 sq ft of building was pulled off by JE Dunn Construction and opened the final week of June. The main five-story above-grade structure has technology to support advanced biomedical research, as well as undergraduate science education and medical and dental professional programs for over 1,600 students.

The 12-story above-grade Skourtes Tower will house all levels of dentistry schooling and research.

The building was designed in under 10 months, with construction beginning four months prior to design completion.

JE Dunn reports that to support research, which houses seven electron microscopes and numerous optical microscopes, the building required extremely low tolerances for vibration, electromagnetic interference, heat and cooling variances and lighting requirements.

The structure, which OHSU students will start using in July and PSU students will move into in September, is the first in the former industrial site in a section of Portland showing potential, especially with a new light rail line coming through the site.

With the uses inside the building, the Collaborative Life Sciences Building & Skourtes Tower brings new meaning to the word “life.”

Tim Newcomb is Engineering News-Record’s Pacific Northwest contributor. He also writes for Popular MechanicsSports Illustrated and more. You can follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb or visit his website here.