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.