In response to the flourishing design community in Portland, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects moved across town and expanded its operations into the Center for Architecture in the Pearl District. One of the oldest structures in Portland, the building was a carriage house in the heart of the city’s former industrial district. The LEED Platinum building houses the chapter’s administration, gallery, and expanded community gathering spaces.
By inserting core elements to the north side of the brick and timber shell, and placing a storage cube in the center of the building, open public spaces are oriented to large operable windows on the south half of the old horse stable in three zones: the office, gallery, and a flexible space coined the “sandbox.”
The exterior of the building has distinct facades from which we took inspirational cues. The south side has excellent solar access and was historically a billboard for a chocolate maker. With this in mind we created a “garden wall” grid of raw steel over chocolate colored paint that serves three functions: a framework for growing future shade vines on the southern façade, an intricate gutter system for bringing roof water to a bioswale, and a symbolic billboard giving the building identity beyond its modest brick exterior.
Location: Portland, OR, US
My Role: Architect