A boathouse at 2515 Marine Drive (photo by Scott Gerke)
BY BRIAN LIBBY
Summer and early fall are the time for local homes tours, and this year is no different with two arriving this weekend and next, and more on the way.
First up is this Saturday's Portland Modern Home Tour, a self-guided tour of five homes from 11AM-5PM on July 21. (Tickets available here.) There have been several things called Portland Modern over the years, from the visual art group show held annually in the mid-2000s to the Portland Modern realty and architectual history site (a sponsor of this blog). This home tour is not affiliated with those, but is instead curated by Architectural Record magazine contributing editor Ingrid Spencer for Austin-based Modern Home Tours LLC.
Portland Modern has lined up several of the more compelling contemporary single-family residential projects in the city from the past few years. One is the Fortin-Tingley residence, designed by the husband-wife team of sole practitioner Ellen Fortin and BOORA Architects' Michael Tingley.
Fortin-Tingley Residence (photos by Jon Jensen)
Fronting busy East Burnside, its focus is on the view overlooking Laurelhurst Park in the back of the house. It's also an interesting combination of high design and simple practicality. For example, the ground floor is divided up between Fortin's studio and a separate residential unit that can either be rented out or used as a kind of updated granny flat, or as a family room. Because of the views as well as the opportunity to rise above Burnside, the great room and outdoor deck are located the story-and-a-half tall second floor, with two single-story bedrooms on that level and then two more above. The great room offers a bounty of natural light through floor-to-ceiling glass, which makes an ideal showcase for the homeowners' collection of art (they're active supporters of the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and Michael even co-designed the organization's past temporary facilities for the Time-Based Art festival with BOORA).
Also featured in the Portland Modern tour is the Interchange Residence, designed by William Kaven Architecture and located in North Portland's Overlook neighborhood. Its architecture, oriented around a courtyard with extensive use of masonry and glass, seems influenced by California, Southwest and Japanese versions of modernism, but the package works very well here too. Every space, be it the great room at the front of the house, a small office and library in the middle or the master bedroom in back, looks out at the lush courtyard through floor-to-ceiling glass. The owner also possesses a very impressive collection of both art and objects from around the world, including works by Matisse and Picasso as well as several Northwest artists and several ancient religious artifacts from Asia and elsewhere.
Perhaps the most unique project on the Portland Modern tour is a boathouse off Marine Drive, designed by Emily Refi.
"We started with a 60's boathouse with an open boat well (think of a U-shaped raft, with the boat parked in the curve of the U) and added a second story micro-living unit," Refi explained in an email. "Sounds simple enough, but it was sort of a feat of engineering to make the extra volume above work with the open boat well below. There was only one engineer in town that would touch it (Ken Safe with Miller Engineering). He designed a moment frame for the river-facing wall that was strong enough to keep the 'flaps' of the U together. That had to be brought in over the water via tug-crane. Dealing with the city was interesting, as they had just begun to regulate boathouses with the 2008 code; previously it had been sort of an anything-goes affair. So getting through permitting was a learning curve for me and for the city, as it was the first combination living unit/boathouse they had come through under the code. Another challenge was mitigating the noise from the airport – attention to skin details & insulation, triple paned windows – this really helped the shell become more energy efficient."
2515 Marine Drive (photos by Scott Gerke)
"My client, Dennis, is a retired US Forest Service ranger and acted as general contractor and did about 80 percent of the work himself, mainly because he had more time on his hands than money," Refi adds. "He had some experience doing construction work on his cabin, maintaining the boat and old boathouse. The logistics of building on the water added some challenges. For instance, all the materials had to be carried or pushed in a hand cart down a steep ramp and dock - about 600 feet. Additional floatation was installed incrementally during construction to keep it afloat, and was installed by a diver. The steel was brought in by tug-crane. Then you can't exactly prop a ladder up against the walls. Dennis rigged up makeshift scaffolding that straddled the neighboring floats, and at times he simply put a ladder down to the riverbed. I came out about once a week during construction to walk through details and answer questions. In the end, he pulled off some pretty amazing details."
Owners Matt Kirkpatrick and Katherine Bovee found a small 50-by-50-foot lot in Southeast Portland's Buckman neighborhood, and Kirkpatrick, through his firm Design For Occupancy, created an ideally modern but woodsy-Oregon house to go there.
"Kirkpatrick designed the house to draw upon the outdoor area rather than dominate it," Holstein writes. "Instead of a single-story home that spreads to the limit of the lot, the three-story house holds itself trimly in place. A basic box that’s as tall as it is wide (28 feet) and 16 feet long, the house consists of rooms stacked vertically: an unfinished basement on the bottom, a kitchen-living area and a bathroom in the middle, and a bedroom on top, with the stairwell hinged onto the front of the home. The only interior doors are those to the bathroom, basement, and root cellar, leaving the rest of the space open and unfettered."
A key aesthetically with Harpoon House is the outdoor deck, with a partial lattice-like enclosure that creates a cool sculptural feel by completing yet partially taking away from the form of the box.
Portland Modern includes not only Portland houses but one in suburban Milwaukie. Designed by Gary Hartil (who was recently featured in our "Architect's Questionnaire" series) of Orangewall Studios, this whole-house renovation "integrates a second story master suite addition, an exterior renovation, new roof massing, new decks, and landscaping," the tour website explains. "The existing shingle siding was retained, defining the character and form of the original cottage. New functions are articulated with an accent of horizontal tongue and groove cedar. A full seismic upgrade was also completed for the project."
There are two more homes on the Portland Modern tour, but I'm choosing not to write about them because they are currently for sale. To do so would, at least for me, cross a line between editorial content and advertising.
Fort House by Saul Zaik (photos by Lincoln Barbour)
Meanwhile, besides Portland Modern there is also the third annual Heritage Home Tour, presented by the Architectural Heritage Center and scheduled for Saturday, July 28 from 10AM to 4PM. Although the tour includes historic Victorian and Queene Anne styles, among others, one of the houses, the Saul Zaik-designed Sam and Esther Fort House is an epitomy of midcentury modern residential architecture in Portland. Completed in 1962, wood and glass home is set into the landscape, designed to recede behind the trees and native plantings. The house is separated into three different pavilions that define the living and kitchen workspace, the children’s area, and adult area. Mosaik Design and Remodeling ;recently completed the kitchen renovation on the Fort home.
Another home on the Heritage Home Tour should be familiar to anyone who has regularly crossed the Ross Island Bridge into the east side of Portland. A majestic Queen Anne‐style house in the Brooklyn neighborhood, the Johan and Dora Poulsen house dates to 1892 (the architect is unknown) and features a 50-foot turret with curved glass.
There is also the H.W. and Leony Howard House, located in Eastmoreland and featuring a blend of Dutch design elements and Mediterranean Revival architecture. Its front door has a carved wood panel, and it also includes a massive brick chimney with multiple stacks, stepped gables, and a red tile roof. And the Heritage Home Tour also includes the Frank and Isabella Barnes House, a 1914 classical revival-style dwelling which played a role as a haunted house in Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby children's book series, andhas also been a location for the TV show Grimm. It includes a grand portico with ionic columns and ballustrade as well as interior rooms retaining the original wall coverings, including a leather wainscott in the dining room.
Finally, there's the Julius and Delia Durkheimer House, located in Northwest Portland and dating to 1899 from a design by architect Rolph H. Miller. Another in the classical revival style, it includes pilasters at the corners and dentil friezes below the cornices. The encircling porch includes Tuscan columns and a balustrade balcony, as well as leaded glass windows.
Most of these homes, be they modern or historic, are closed off to the public. This is a rare opportunity to see some of the best of both past and present residential design in the city.