Last week I took a tour of the new offices of Lorentz Bruun Construction, designed by Hennebery Eddy Architects, whose portfolio also includes the beautiful Loyola Jesuit Center and, in a co-design with Emmons Architects, a very cool finalist entry for Fire Station #1.
Why was I touring a construction company’s headquarters? The reputation of the architect was part of it, as was the photos I saw. But I was also instantly attracted to the site. It’s a small, triangular-shaped track along the Brooklyn rail yards just east of Southeast Powell, near 20th Street. As a result, it’s got a terrific view of the trains going by. Standing on a rooftop deck there, I recalled my long-ago electric train set.
The new headquarters is actually across the street from Lorentz Bruun headquarters, so it’s a property I’m told the company (which specializes in industrial construction) eyed and held on to for awhile.
The building, like its site, is shaped like a right triangle, two smaller sides forming a corner—where the entrance is—and the longer third side (also known as a hypotenuse, as I remember from 10th grade geometry class) faces three or four train tracks. I can personally vouch for the rooftop garden having a superb view of the Brooklyn yards: a picture postcard of Portland’s gritty industrial spine. Funnily, the kitchen of the rooftop garden had a sign that said, “Player’s Lounge”. I half expected Telly Savalis to appear in a tuxedo, reaching for one of the scores of Coors Light and Diet Coke cans in the fridge. (The rooftop garden recently hosted an event for the Architectural Foundation of Oregon.)
At the corner is a multi-story glass portion that acts as an open atrium—wait, is it still an atrium if it’s open but not in the middle? The only downside is that the first floor is covered, with the open atrium extending from the second floor upward. Too bad they couldn’t have gone without that ceiling, but it probably has to do with some code or other regulation I’m not aware of. Still, overall it’s a great piece.
The building is then broken up on the exterior with aluminum panel contrasted against CMU block (basically concrete), the latter of which, along with the glass corner, add visually a vertical emphasis to the forms. A canopy over the entrance and a series of sun shades on the window provide a series of horizontal planes intersecting with the concrete center. It’s also an appropriately industrial palette given not only the rail yards but the surrounding industrially zoned neighborhood.
Similarly, the interior has polished concrete floors and exposed ductwork, which is jazzed up using some touches of wood and glass. Given the thinness of most of the building and the corner atrium, there’s also an ample amount of natural light.
Congrats to Hennebery Eddy and Lorentz Bruun on a nice project.