Earlier this week the City of Portland's Office of Sustainable Development and the Energy Trust of Oregon announced $425,000 in grants to several sustainable developments as part of its Green Investment Fund.
The projects include Mercy Corps' global headquarters being built in Old Town, with a design from Thomas Hacker Architects; 14th & Everett, the old Meier & Frank warehouse in the Pearl District being renovated by Gerding Edlen Development from a GBD Architects design; Park Avenue West, the Tom Moyer-developed and TVA Architects-designed condo tower just west of Pioneer Courthouse Square; an addition an aquatics center in east Portland that will make innovative re-use of water; Simpsons Commons, an affordable housing project; 12W, a new mixed-use tower; and One Waterfront Place, developer Jim Winkler's BOORA Architects-designed office building.
I was especially surprised to see One Waterfront Place on the list, because this project was planned several years ago and has been languishing in search of an anchor tenant seemingly named Godot. It's been so long, in fact, that one of the primary architects at BOORA with whom the project was associated, the exceptionally talented Frenchman monsieur Eric Cugnart, has been gone from the firm for a few years. (He's now at Mulvanny G2.)
Originally, though, One Waterfront was supposed to rise near the Broadway Bridge around the same time another office project, One Main Place by GBD Architects, was set to be built at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. One Main also languished unbuilt in a slow office market for a few years, and it's now under construction. So perhaps it's fitting they come up together again. One Waterfront is also supposed to have a pedestrian bridge connecting the Willamette Greenway to the Pearl, so that will also be an interesting extra. When completed in 2010 (which I'll believe when I see), the building is poised to be the first Platinum LEED-rated speculative office building. That would have been even more impressive a few years ago when it was originally planned. Still, you've got to admire Winkler's stick-to-it-iveness.
One Waterfront actually received 27% of the total GIF funds, which will be directed toward an innovative storm water system that will disconnect the building from the city's storm water system by filtering and percolating all site storm water into the aquifer. As it says on BOORA's website, "The project's design team and the grantmaking entities believe that disconnecting the entire 3.27-acre brownfield site from the city’s storm water system represents a solution to on-site stormwater management for brownfield sites that can be replicated in other development projects. If widely adopted, this innovative stormwater management system has the potential to curtail future investments in CSO (combined sewerage overflow) mitigation measures, which have become a large cost to municipalities throughout the country, including Portland."
Meanwhile, the migration of offices from downtown to the Pearl continues. When you've worked in an office space with lots of natural light and ventilation, along with all the other amenities of green, it's pretty dreary to be anywhere else. What will become of the countless old office buildings downtown? Can we rebuild them green in a way that favorably compares with the new offices north of Burnside?
One other thought, though: Is it right that these projects, many of which seem to come from the city's biggest developers, are the ones getting a lot of the public investment from the GIF? I'm not saying it's wrong. These guys in the private sector, particularly Gerding Edlen and GBD, are leading the way in this field. Maybe I'm imagining some more romantically ultra-sustainable little projects out there that either don't exist or didn't apply for GIF funding.