Portland Mixed-Use Project

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The sustained growth of Portland’s population is a mixed blessing. While the city’s compact nature, combined with strict control over expansion, give it much of its charm, there remains a need for more housing. Unfortunately, much of this new density comes from large, monolithic slab-like buildings that don’t contribute to the appeal of their surroundings.

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This project is designed to animate the new density. These types of buildings are usually on the city’s east side, on busy arterial streets like Division, Hawthorne and Alberta. The ground floor is occupied by retail – stores, restaurants and services. The upper floors are apartments, either rental or condominium.

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The surrounding neighborhood is typically retail, small industrial and apartments on the main street, with single family houses beyond. There’s usually a mix of older buildings with more recent development, and often there are large clashes of scale.

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In this project, I’ve attempted to break down the scale of the building by articulating the units on the face of the building. While there’s an underlying order to the scheme, it’s casually developed, allowing a feeling of individuality to come through.

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This has a direct impact on the quality of the units. They’re all somewhat different, to the point that a resident could stand on the street and easily point out where they live.

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The units range from studios and one bedrooms to two bedrooms with a den. Some have outdoor terraces and floor to ceiling glass, while others are more cozy. This allows the building to embrace a variety of tenants.

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The modulation of the building’s face also helps it relate to its neighbors. Its articulated volumes reflect the varied forms of the houses nearby, and avoid the image of a bluff cliff.

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Within the units,  the articulated volumes create dynamic spaces. In the two bedroom unit pictured above, the open living area maintains a strong feeling of defined space for the living and dining areas. The outdoor terrace extends the living space outside, and into the neighborhood.

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Befitting the top floor corner location of this one bedroom unit, the living space is wrapped with view and light. The generous terrace is ideal for people who want to live outside, even if it’s raining.

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This building’s composition reflects the diversity of Portland itself. As laid out, this building has 24 units – 12 studios, 6 one bedrooms and 6 two bedrooms with dens. There are twelve off-street covered parking places. The generous ground floor retail space offers multiple possibilities of subdivision and unit size.

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I designed this project, and created all the drawings and renderings in this post.

Millennium Park Plaza

The goal of this project was to revitalize the base of a mixed-use tower in the heart of Chicago. Originally built in the 1970’s, the tower base’s mix of sub-grade retail, office and residential lobbies and under-utilized outdoor plaza space were crying out for help. Our design sought to simplify the many floor levels of the existing retail space, with the goal of creating larger, more leasable spaces that opened directly to street level. Lobbies were enlarged and upgraded, and the exterior was given a fresh new image.

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The residential lobby was transformed into a glassy, light-filled hall. Rich, warm materials greet the residents as they return home, raising the profile of the building to match its premium, downtown location.

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The retail portion of the building faces Michigan Avenue. It combines large retails spaces, which have direct access to the street, with a mall. The mall acts as a hub, connecting small retail, office and residential lobbies and a new entrance to a nearby train station.

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As can be imagined, connecting all these spaces was quite complex. Working with existing conditions further challenged the design team to ensure that every bit of structure, ductwork and piping was accounted for.

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One of the greatest challenges was accounting for emergency exits, both existing exits of the office and residential portions of the tower above, and new exits required by the enlarged retail spaces.

This work was performed while I was employed at Solomon Cordwell Buenz. On this project, I performed the role of project architect; coordinating site exploration, engineering consultants and SCB’s design team to ensure that all the project’s features were safe and feasible, while maximizing space and minimizing construction cost.

The renderings featured in this post were created by SCB.

 

 

 

Rialto Theater Condominiums

The Rialto Theater is the heart of downtown Joliet, Illinois. While the focus is on the historic theater, this whole block development includes retail, offices, and apartments. The 1926 project’s architects were Rapp & Rapp, who often designed mixed-use theater complexes.

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The theater was given an extensive restoration in the 1980s, but the rest of the complex remained in original, deteriorating condition. The residential portion was abandoned, and found to be in an advanced state of decay when Graham, Anderson, Probst & White was retained.

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After thorough investigation, it was determined that the residential building was structurally beyond saving, so the client requested that we study replacing it.

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Our project combined ground floor retail with seven floors of condominiums. One special requirement was that our building had to accommodate a theater exit that was part of the original residential building. The textured precast concrete panels of the new building recall the molded terracotta panels of the original complex.

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I laid out the condominium units to be as flexible as possible. As there was very little residential development in downtown Joliet, it was not clear what the market for this building would be. By carefully arranging kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces, the floor could be maximized for smaller units (plan above) or larger units (plan below).

I designed this project while an employee of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White. I created all the photos, renderings and plan drawings in this post.

Office for an Investment Company

This workspace is located on the top three floors of a Chicago office tower. All three floors are linked with a three story atrium, a unique feature with a powerful impact on the office.

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As originally constructed, the atrium was designed to have an open stair connecting the floors. But this stair was never built. My clients wanted a stair to enhance the communication of its employees, and it became a major element of this buildout.

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The atrium as found had wide open balconies on all three levels. While my client loved the openness, they needed the space for program areas. I designed a wall system, based on aluminum framed storefront parts, that provided glass and wood veneer panels as suggested by view and privacy requirements.

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The new atrium stair was located adjacent to new conference rooms that were fully glazed to facilitate communication among company members. It’s become a great place to bump into people – a true communicating stair. Glass stair risers were specified to maintain the stair’s transparency.

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The investment company has offices in both the US and the UK. When laying out the work spaces, there was a clash of culture: Americans value privacy, and the Brits need openness and collaboration. In the end, the plan compromises with four-person pods that may be open or enclosed based on the needs of the department.

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This company has a strong appreciation of wood and custom craftsmanship. The reception desk was made veneered in a highly figured maple, with solid planks of the same material at the transaction counter. I also designed custom conference tables of this wood for all the conference rooms.

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In addition to the custom furniture, I also designed custom lighting for the circulation areas. These fixtures consisted of a laminated glass plane suspended 3″ below the ceiling to create a luminous plane.

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This project was completed while I was an employee at Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Corp. I was the project designer and manager, and performed complete project services, including site, contractor, and bid evaluation; programming; schematic design; design development; construction documents and construction administration.

Mark Ballogg create all of the photographs with the exception of the light fixture above, which is a photograph by me.