Framework is a direct adaptation of the historic small plate timber structures that weave through the building fabric of Portland Oregon’s central Eastside. Structurally little different to its neighbouring 100 year old structures, the elimination of the masonry perimeter walls necessitated a shift in identity. The retail frontage in the concrete base is allowed to take on a more sculptural reading, contrasting to the taut glass skin above. Traditional walls and windows are able to give way to a simple glass vitrine that allows the warmth of the wood interior to be clearly seen from the street.
The project aims to celebrate its primary material as wood; its design allows 80% of the wood to remain exposed, and all connections used were custom designed specifically to accentuate the wood framing system. Its combination of convention in framing and a sophisticated curtain wall system as cladding adds to its appeal.
The central Eastside industrial district is the geographic center of Portland. With its collection of historic warehouses that have been adapted to house industrial creative workspaces, the Eastside is the hot bed for Portland’s maker market. The gritty nature of the Eastside remains a major identifying element; big, open framework buildings sit amongst the active rail lines and freight trucks. This building’s base is carved as a mass, rising up to hold the framework display. Wood facets frame the entry, moments and spaces along the public realm.
The structure consists of a concrete base with the upper four floors framed in glue-laminated beams, and diagonally laid tongue-and-groove floors and ceilings. Historically this building type would be constructed with thick masonry perimeter walls with relatively small apertures. Inherent in the architecture of adapting this traditional type is how the building’s mass is portrayed. We wanted to allude to this contrast by how the base is constructed, exaggerating the mass, but constructing everything above it of simple wooden boards.
On one level it is a balance between the ephemeral and the tangible, on the other it is simply a compositional shortened palette of simple and self-evident materials. Our adaptation of the type was similar to a ship in a bottle.
The glazing strategy and a high-performing envelope employed in this project result in high energy efficiency. In response to the site positioning of the building, the east and south walls are solid to protect from solar gain. The main glazing appears on the north and west facades, containing high-efficiency glass, and the curtain walls used in the façades contain solid infill insulated panels. Storefront systems used in the building also utilize high-efficiency glazing. Finally, insulation in the framed walls of the structure maximizes thermal stability, contributing to energy efficiency.
The first floor has a concrete podium (retail, garage and lobby). The upper floors are a mass timber frame with Glulam Beams and columns and 3” tongue + groove sawn wood decking, playfully laid on the diagonal. Plywood shear walls constitute the lateral system and are the only fixed walls in the space.
The project aims to celebrate its primary material as wood; its design allows 80% of the wood to remain exposed and all connections used were custom designed specifically to accentuate the wood framing system. Its combination of convention in framing and a sophisticated curtain wall system as cladding will add to its success.
There is a warmth to the wood frame that can’t be replicated in other materials. It couples the clear tectonics of steel with the visual mass of concrete, but has the ability to create a more complex and intimate environment than the two, even in expansive, open spaces. In addition to the framing and infill materials of the structure, staircases used in the building are fabricated with engineered wood products as well, including laminated strand lumber and structural plywood.