After partnering together on Museum Place, the St. Francis and Belmont Dairy, Developer Shiels Obletz Johnsen and GBD Architects have another new building about to break ground: the Madison Office Condominiums.
This is a small little office building that will be situated on 11th Avenue next to the massive Eliot condo tower. The two buildings will share a plaza between 11th and 10th Avenue. SOJ will occupy the top floor, with a restaurant tentatively planned for the ground floor and for-sale office space on the floors in between.
“This is a very small building,” Craig Davis of GBD told me this morning. “We’ve always felt like it had to be sort of a jewel box.”
And indeed, what’s immediately noticeable in the renderings is that the Madison will be colorful. And I’m happy about that, because there are not many colorful buildings here. Also, despite an upper portion of the building that extends outward to break up the mass, the form is fairly simple. I think the color is one of the building’s best assets.
According to conversations I had with Davis as well as Francesca Gambetti of SOJ, the exterior will be comprised of an aluminum composite panel in two colors: blue and silver. The building also includes exposed exterior bracing that will be painted yellow. (I like this trend from GBD of exposing a building’s structural bracing, as they did with two of the Brewery Blocks.) Davis says a glassier building was originally considered, but sustainability concerns ruled that out because of too much potential heat gain.
Although this is a smaller job, I think it has to be said that GBD Architects has secured an astonishing amount of work for themselves in one fairly small area. There are five GBD-designed Brewery Blocks just a few blocks away, and a sixth project building for Gerding/Edlen Development planned there as well. Additionally, near the Portland Art Museum we’ll have Museum Place, the St. Francis and the Madison, all designed by the firm. Without even including all their South Waterfront work, that’s nine buildings!
Gambetti says SOJ and GBD have learned a great deal working together and that relationship makes it easy to trust each other—and therefore for SOJ to depend on GBD for project after project. (Much like Gerding/Edlen). I respect that. I really do. But with all due respect to a very capable architecture firm, at what point should SOJ be held accountable for not giving other firms a chance? Perhaps in the future, SOJ could follow Gerding/Edlen’s lead and incorporate other firms as partners with GBD.
Meanwhile, as always, feedback is welcome on the Madison Office Condominiums and SOJ’s work as developer and architectural benefactor.