Japan Institute will be located just three miles away from Portland Japanese Garden in a wooded, three-acre respite near Forest Park. This property was initially developed in 1914 and features the work of Portland’s most celebrated architect, A.E. Doyle. In the spring of 2022, Japan Institute, Portland Japanese Garden’s new sibling organization, finalized its purchase of the property that will become its headquarters. Comprised of four buildings raised between 1914 and 1965, the 3.65 acres of the Japan Institute campus are enveloped by the evergreens of Forest Park and bordered by a sweeping view of Portland below. On this exceptional parcel of land, Japan Institute will be able to expand our shared experiences in Japanese culture, art, and connection to nature.

The buildings, which will house artist studios, gardener workspaces, accommodations for artists, workshops, demonstrations, and lectures, as well as administrative offices, are a beautiful representation of the time and history they were erected in. However, they must be refreshed, repaired, and renovated to not only fit the needs of Japan Institute’s programming but to be made more accessible for modern needs.

The dining hall in the Artist & Administrative Building. Photo by Nina Johnson.

Japan Institute has retained Precision Construction along with a team from CIDA, a woman-owned architecture and design firm that often works with non-profits like Japan Institute. Precision is a special projects division of Hoffman Construction, an integral partner on Portland Japanese Garden’s Cultural Crossing expansion in 2017. These organizations are joining landscape architecture firm Walker Macy, who were brought on board in 2021. With a modest budget, the Institute is prioritizing artistic and programming spaces, which include studios for pottery, Japanese textiles, and photography and a garden design and resource center. 

A hallway in what will become a place for visiting learners and partners of Japan Institute to stay. Photo by Nina Johnson.

Until it was purchased by Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden, the campus was owned by The Salvation Army. Formerly known as the White Shield Center, the property served young women and children with care and comfort from medical professionals, social workers, and educators. Many residents here were able to emerge from trying and demanding circumstances and gain the necessary skills, support, and fortitude to help them thrive as adults.

Kengo Kuma & Associates to Design Jewel of Japan Institute Campus

A conceptual rendering of the Glass Theater at the Japan Institute campus. Kengo Kuma and his team will redesign this space.

Japan Institute is delighted to partner with internationally acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma to refresh part its new Japan Institute campus. Kuma, one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021, designed the award-winning Cultural Crossing expansion for Portland Japanese Garden in 2017, which marked his first public project in North America.

In the second half of 2022, a project lead from Kengo Kuma & Associates visited Portland to scope out what will become the Glass Theater, an event space that was previously a chapel. Kuma and his team are the same internationally acclaimed architecture firm that designed Portland Japanese Garden’s Cultural Village. In this new venture, Kuma will work in glass art for the first time in his illustrious career with the assistance of our longtime partners and friends at Bullseye Glass Co.

Video: Celebrating the Future Home of Japan Institute