SOU: Groundbreaking at Pavilion Dedicated to Outrageous Innovation

Thalden Pavilion Rendering

A groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 9, will mark the start of construction on “Thalden Pavilion: dedicated to outrageous innovation in sustainability and the arts” – a cutting-edge, education and performance facility at The Farm of Southern Oregon University.

A generous donation from Ashland residents Barry and Kathryn Thalden is paying for design and construction of the new pavilion. The Thaldens, who moved to Ashland five years ago after successful careers as architects, have immersed themselves in several community projects, including downtown Ashland’s flower basket program and outdoor murals at the Ashland Emergency Food Bank and outside Sesame Asian Kitchen on the Ashland Plaza.

“Philanthropy will play an increasing role as we position Southern Oregon University over the next several years to best meet the needs of our students and our region,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “The Thaldens exemplify the kinds of people whose collaborative support will help us imagine what we can be, and then bring that vision to reality.”

Barry Thalden, whose architectural career included work on several casinos in Las Vegas and throughout the West, said he and his wife were inspired by the opportunity to create a landmark space that can be used by the entire community. Kathryn Thalden had her own landscape architecture and planning firm in the Midwest before she and her husband moved to Las Vegas and she became a Unity minister.

The Thaldens and SOU envision a facility at The Farm that can bring together the creative forces of the university, the city, the business community and local theaters.

“This place should be an inspiration,” Barry said. “That’s why we say it’s dedicated to outrageous innovation in sustainability and the arts.

“This building has to be outrageous; it has to be totally unique so that it’s recognized for what it is, and brings attention to the idea of sustainability and an experimental farm.”

Thursday’s ceremony will include remarks by President Schott, the Thaldens and others.

The Farm is a student-led agricultural and learning center at SOU. The 3 ½-acre property on Walker Street in Ashland serves as an organic farm for the production of healthy, sustainable food for the SOU community. It is also a center for sustainability and a hub for education, student and faculty research, and community outreach to the Rogue Valley.

The Thalden Pavilion has been designed by Chris Brown of the Ashland firm Arkitek: Design & Architecture.

“It is a rare occasion, indeed, to have a client from the design profession – let alone both an architect (Barry) and landscape architect (Kathryn), on one project,” Brown said. “The evolution from a simple outdoor gazebo into what it has become, has definitely been an adventurous ride.

“We worked specifically with the idea of ‘open’ space rather than a fully enclosed structure, and sought to let light in through the cracks, allow sails to billow in the wind and make explicit the movement and response of structure to wind, sun and change of seasons.”