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The YU Center for Contemporary Arts is an ambitious new initiative aspiring to turn the 1909 Yale Union Laundry Building into an international center for the arts. Located directly across from Holocene at SE 10th Ave between Morrison and Belmont streets, the YU Center sits in the city’s most fertile swath of creative companies, restaurants, and galleries, which are known collectively as the Central Eastside Industrial District.

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The entrance, envisioned as part of YU’s full multi-million-dollar build out, will feature a courtyard fronting a bookstore and a café.

Rendering by Accelerated Development.

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The ground floor is drafted as a multi-use space for performances, readings, music, and film screenings.

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The upper floor, already one of Portland’s most breathtaking rooms, is set to become YU’s showcase gallery for newly commissioned works by invited artists.

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Rendering by Boora Architects.

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The main gallery’s arched windows overlook the Central Eastside and downtown.

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There are numerous spaces throughout the complex to be utilized for YU’s ambitious agenda. Pictured above is one such space, envisioned as an exercise facility for artists in residence.

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Some of YU’s spaces are already being put to use. The basement, for example, has been set up as a letterpress print shop by artist Emily Johnson.

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YU co-founder Curtis Knapp has set up a recording studio where local bands like Explode Into Colors, White Rainbow, and Parenthetical Girls have already recorded.

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The building sits atop an aquifer that will provide water at a constant temperature to YU’s future geothermal heating and cooling system.

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Cofounders Curtis Knapp, Aaron Flint Johnson, and director Sandra Percival have no shortage of ideas for YU. Time will tell whether they will be able to shape them into a sustainable program Portland and the wider contemporary art world can support.

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