May 15, 2012 - The Bud Clark Commons, the year-old building that combines homes and services for homeless and low-income people in Portland’s Old Town, has won national recognition for its design.The American Institute of Architects and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given the Bud Clark Commons the “Creating Community Connections” award in their annual design contest.
The unique eight-story building provides a continuum of services such as health, shelter, and counseling to help homeless people transition from instability to a more permanent home. It includes a walk-in day center with access to services; a temporary shelter with 90 beds for homeless men; and 130 efficient, studio apartments on the five upper floors designated for very low-income women or men.
The national jury of architects, design critics and government housing officials heaped praise on Holst Architects, the Portland-based firm that designed the building for the Portland Housing Bureau.
“The architect is really trying to say something here, and it is inspiring. The way the shelter addresses the street and the commons – it creates a place of invitation and dignity in a warm, lively kind of way. It invites a wider idea of constructive citizenry.
“This building is more than an institution. Considering the homelessness initiative – most homeless projects seem institutionalized and one dimensional, but this is not stigmatized, it is thoughtful and brings a new way of thinking about how these facilities should be done. It is a gorgeous project. This approach should be imitated.”
Dave Otte the lead architect on the project, accepted the award at the AIA’s national convention in Washington D.C.
Housing Commissioner Nick Fish congratulated the Holst team.
“The promise of Bud Clark Commons is to create pathways to self-sufficiency for people without a place to call home,” Nick Fish. “This is an exceptional honor for an exceptional building. In the Bud Clark Commons, the city and the design team have proven that design and function are not mutually exclusive.”
The building was developed by Home Forward, formally the Housing Authority of Portland, and built by Walsh Construction. Total cost of the project was $46.9 million, $29.8 million coming from the city’s urban renewal funds. It’s named for Bud Clark, Portland’s mayor from 1985 to 1992, the first to make ending homelessness a key mission of the city. It’s located at the gateway to downtown Portland, near historic Union Station and bordering the Pearl District, an upper-income mixed-use neighborhood.
The building stands out environmentally as well, using natural light, a solar-powered hot water system, energy-efficient lighting, green roofs, low-flow plumbing fixtures, bioswales and grey-water recycling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. All the building materials were locally sourced and sustainably harvested or produced. The building has a LEED Platinum certification by the United States Green Building Council, with savings from the use of energy-efficient technologies estimated at $60,000 per year.