Restoring Downtown

Living at The Kern

Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) established its Campus for Rural Health in part to address health care provider shortages in rural areas. One positive side benefit of this program, however, may be a healthier, revitalized downtown Klamath Falls.

Headquartered here in Klamath Falls, OHSU’s program assigns students to work with staff at Sky Lakes Medical Center for several weeks at a time. The community becomes a classroom for these inter-professional teams of dental, medical, pharmacy and physician assistant students. To build informal relationships, the students even share housing. And that has breathed new life into the 93-year-old J.W. Kerns Building located in the heart of Klamath’s historic city center.

Designed by the most prolific architect in Klamath Falls, Howard R. Perrin, the J.W. Kerns Building features ornamental brickwork on its parapet with materials from the old Klamath Brick and Tile Company. Almost 100 years after Perrin drew the building’s original plans, property owner Rich Bogatay turned to hometown girl turned Portland architect, Nancy Merriman, to draw plans that would keep the building vital into its second century of life. “She helped prepare the initial concept and building schematics” Bogatay said,
“which really got the project off the ground.”

Bogatay’s renovation juxtaposes the structure’s historic exterior with thoroughly modern living spaces inside. Called “OHSU at The Kern,” the building’s second level contains four one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments measuring from 850 to 1,500 square feet each. The apartments feature onsite laundry, a conference room, elevator, and indoor bicycle storage.

Bogatay and his general contractor Darren Bogatay (who also happens to be his son), called on local designer Rayna Larson to help convert the vacant second story into fully outfitted, livable spaces. The team recycled and reused much of the building’s original millwork, but kept it fresh and modern by painting walls and trim the same color. Taking a cue from Klamath’s high desert surroundings, Larson choose a palette of muted earthy neutrals.

Skylights keep the wide common hallways bright. And though the building interior has a decidedly modern edge, Larson artfully dressed the hallways with vintage photos that show students what Klamath looked like nearly a century ago. Each apartment entry is marked by a carved wooden panel bearing the unit number and the profile of a duck. The duck is perhaps a nod to Klamath’s place in the Pacific Flyway, or more likely, to Bogatay’s alma mater!

Enhancing the 9-foot ceilings of these spacious apartments are banks of large windows that maximize light and views of the surrounding hills. The open-concept floor plan combines living room and kitchen. A long kitchen island not only provides a place to prep meals and entertain, but also visually defines the space. Diamond Home Improvement configured and installed chocolate wood cabinets, which Larson accented with brushed steel hardware. Larson also sourced dark, stainless steel appliances at Merit’s Home Center.

Rich Bogatay said it was important “to use products that perform.” With students rotating in every four weeks, “we wanted flooring that looked good but that was also durable.” Diamond Home Improvement provided the answer for these high traffic areas with a textured laminate flooring product.

Apartments feature large, furnished bedrooms, some with walk-in closets. Bathrooms are spacious and well-lit, with cabinetry that matches the kitchens. Each residence boasts office space, with Bogatay taking special care to use sound-dampening wall construction and insulation to enhance students’ study time.

Racyne Parker, OHSU’s rural campus site coordinator, helps students settle in during their stay. Some 200 students have gone through the Campus for Rural Health program since it began in Klamath Falls in 2015. While most of the students have never been to Klamath Falls, Parker happily reported that “the students love it here. They love the accommodations.”

Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) established its Campus for Rural Health in part to address health care provider shortages in rural areas. One positive side benefit of this program, however, may be a healthier, revitalized downtown Klamath Falls.

Headquartered here in Klamath Falls, OHSU’s program assigns students to work with staff at Sky Lakes Medical Center for several weeks at a time. The community becomes a classroom for these inter-professional teams of dental, medical, pharmacy and physician assistant students. To build informal relationships, the students even share housing. And that has breathed new life into the 93-year-old J.W. Kerns Building located in the heart of Klamath’s historic city center.

Designed by the most prolific architect in Klamath Falls, Howard R. Perrin, the J.W. Kerns Building features ornamental brickwork on its parapet with materials from the old Klamath Brick and Tile Company. Almost 100 years after Perrin drew the building’s original plans, property owner Rich Bogatay turned to hometown girl turned Portland architect, Nancy Merriman, to draw plans that would keep the building vital into its second century of life. “She helped prepare the initial concept and building schematics” Bogatay said,
“which really got the project off the ground.”

Bogatay’s renovation juxtaposes the structure’s historic exterior with thoroughly modern living spaces inside. Called “OHSU at The Kern,” the building’s second level contains four one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments measuring from 850 to 1,500 square feet each. The apartments feature onsite laundry, a conference room, elevator, and indoor bicycle storage.

Bogatay and his general contractor Darren Bogatay (who also happens to be his son), called on local designer Rayna Larson to help convert the vacant second story into fully outfitted, livable spaces. The team recycled and reused much of the building’s original millwork, but kept it fresh and modern by painting walls and trim the same color. Taking a cue from Klamath’s high desert surroundings, Larson choose a palette of muted earthy neutrals.

Skylights keep the wide common hallways bright. And though the building interior has a decidedly modern edge, Larson artfully dressed the hallways with vintage photos that show students what Klamath looked like nearly a century ago. Each apartment entry is marked by a carved wooden panel bearing the unit number and the profile of a duck. The duck is perhaps a nod to Klamath’s place in the Pacific Flyway, or more likely, to Bogatay’s alma mater!

Enhancing the 9-foot ceilings of these spacious apartments are banks of large windows that maximize light and views of the surrounding hills. The open-concept floor plan combines living room and kitchen. A long kitchen island not only provides a place to prep meals and entertain, but also visually defines the space. Diamond Home Improvement configured and installed chocolate wood cabinets, which Larson accented with brushed steel hardware.
Larson also sourced dark, stainless steel appliances at Merit’s Home Center.

Racyne Parker, OHSU’s rural campus site coordinator, helps students settle in during their stay. Some 200 students have gone through the Campus for Rural Health program since it began in Klamath Falls in 2015. While most of the students have never been to Klamath Falls, Parker happily reported that “the students love it here. They love the accommodations.”

Rich Bogatay said it was important “to use products that perform.” With students rotating in every four weeks, “we wanted flooring that looked good but that was also durable.” Diamond Home Improvement provided the answer for these high traffic areas with a textured laminate flooring product.

Apartments feature large, furnished bedrooms, some with walk-in closets. Bathrooms are spacious and well-lit, with cabinetry that matches the kitchens. Each residence boasts office space, with Bogatay taking special care to use sound-dampening wall construction and insulation to enhance students’ study time.

“OHSU at The Kern” is walking distance from restaurants, shops, the Ross Ragland Theater, Sugarman’s Corner, and other attractions. General contractor Darren Bogatay said that the students living at The Kern will increase demand for amenities and “create a lot of activity for downtown.”

OHSU rural campus site coordinator Racyne Parker reports that’s already happening. Parker said “you’ll see students shopping at Holiday Market and eating at The Daily Bagel, Thai Orchid, Rodeos Pizza…”

When OHSU selected Klamath Falls as its rural medicine program hub, OHSU Regional Associate Dean Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez was committed to securing upper-level living spaces downtown for students. “It’s such a wonderful way to be a part of rejuvenating downtown.”

Rayna Larson has been doing interior design work for 40 years. No project is too big or too small. Her eye for design improves any space whether it’s rearranging furniture, selecting paint colors, adding decorative touches or starting from the ground up be
it a kitchen, bathroom or a whole house.

For her expertise with your next project, contact her
at raynadecor8@yahoo.com

Story by Heidi Neel Biggs

Photos by Jesse Widener

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