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I would like to speak for a few folks I know , and myself , when I say we are not particularly waiting for any more cloepfil buildings. He is a nice guy who has been quite fortunate , but his work is boring.

Brian Libby

Uh-oh, here we go again. More of Brian's cronyism!


Gerding Edlen, GBD and SERA do good quality work and are successful companies because of it. But... the work is so boring! Their buildings read as generic to me, with no soul, personality or artistic expression. Like Toyota Camrys; well designed, well built and offensive to nobody. We don’t all want to drive them though. I know function is imperative in this case, but must form take a back seat? I want to be excited and challenged by architecture. Hopefully this team will surprise us.


no big surprise with that announcement


Well designed, well built and unoffensive seems like a good start, given current hard times.


That is great news! I guess they wanted to keep the expertise here, keep the jobs here, and not second guess the skill of the local community. Let the process and public push for the building image Portland yearns for. One thing, I have to wonder WHY IN THE WORLD would PDC pick Allied Works for this - even on the shortlist? What do they offer to the solution of the project? I think you are really stretching it. I am not trying to be part of the croynism camp here, but that is really from left field. The only qualification was that they put together a proposal - unless of course they had another architect on their team? This is beyond a LEED Platinum building, and I have said it before - if you have not done a LEED Platinum building you are playing catch up to deliver a Living Building - this is the closest thing to a building being off the grid! For an urban building that is huge. Congrats to the winners and I can't wait to see the results of their design in the future.


Can someone tell me what problem this new building is solving or what need is provide for?

The following text is from the PDC RFP and it is not clear as to what this huge capital investment will do for Portland:

“About the Project
PDC; the City of Portland (the “City”) as represented by the Portland + Oregon Sustainability Institute (“P+OSI”); the State of Oregon (the “State”), acting by and through the State Board of Higher Education and its Oregon University System (“OUS”); and the Living Building Initiative (“LBI”), a consortium of leading sustainability-focused organizations; have partnered for the ambitious purpose of developing and operating a world-class multi-story living building that meets the Living Building Standards (as hereinafter defined) (the “Center” or “Sustainability Center”). PDC, the City, P+OSI, OUS and LBI are hereafter referred to as the “Sustainability Center Team.” A more detailed description of each of the members of the Sustainability Center Team is set forth in Section X.”
{section X was not attached}

I guess it is nice to have all these folks in the same building, but with available communication tools being so advanced (and green) where is the tangible benefit to sharing a building?


Wasn't Holst Architecture shortlisted for the project? Why are they left out of the list? I for one would have liked to see a local firm who also has a modern flair run with this project.


I get the green, living building goal, but to what end?

Who needs the space?

Why new construction, and can renovated structures attain "living building" status?


No suprise with this selection. I know that several firms did research into this project and it appears that this selection was hard-wired from the beginning. GED has an option on the property already....this hardly seems like a fair and open process. I would encourage one of the shortlisted firms to file a protest.


I will never understand the acclaim some people heap on Cloepfil and Allied...their work (to this untrained eye) all looks the same, completely uninspired, cold and indifferent. Holst doesn't seem much better, honestly. Gerding Edlen...meh...they are ok...but quite frankly, is there no one else in town...can't we have something interesting once in a while? I have hope for this though...although not sure what it's for :-)


i hope the client group holds mr. edlen to the task of the living building challenge and its six criteria, most notably the requirement for beauty and inspiration. the casey this aint, mark...good luck.


What I want to know is what this building is supposed to accomplish. Isn't the goal of a showcase building like this to get designers, developers and the general public excited about the possibilities of green design? I would think that the jury would select a team likely to produce a building which attracts attention to its net-zero performance BECAUSE it is simultaneously a groundbreaking and notable piece of amazing architecture.

I'm not understanding how this building will receive much attention or acclaim for its sustainable qualities alone.

I am not saying that the winning team cannot produce a fresh and genius design. However, I do think that a couple of other teams here would have been safer bets in that department. Much. Safer. Bets.

While watching the presentations, I was struck by how inspiring some of the Winkler and Ethos teams' (specifically Perkins & Will and Behnisch) projects were. Their designs were holistically driven by sustainable goals and, as a result, innovative and really interesting buildings were created.

I don't know if that kind of approach is something that can be conjured up by the winning team for this project.


all this talk about great design and an iconic image. if and when this project achieves its lofty goals (platinum plus/living building), that will be an unprecedented achievement - at least for a project of its proposed size. that being said, such an achievement will be iconic in and of itself...and will thus bring further attention to oregon and solidify its position as sustainability pioneer.

Jeff Joslin

I agree with Brian's fundamental premise: that this seemed like a prime opportunity for design-based decision-making. The question now is: is it too late?

All need to understand that this was not an RFP for a building: it was for a feasibility analysis. Another approach would have been to more fully segregate this feasibility stage from the presumed next phase, where a specific project is awarded.

Of course, no one knows what such a feasibility analysis might look like, and how to de-couple it from design, as the two are so intrinsicially linked.

Regardless, there's still another stage folks. How to enter the final stage without the feasiblity phase design/development team as a foregone conclusion, assuming a more design-based selection is desirable, is the next challenge.

A more suitable approach would have been - in my perfect world - one which has never been done here (but has been used to great effect elsewhere, such as Battery Park City): parallel competitions for analysis, development, and design, whereby the decisions for each aspect are made independently, with the respective results being the matchmaker.

We've missed too many opportunities in the past because the winning team had the wrong developer or the wrong designer. Why not design a process that results the best of each?


actually Jeff that would make alot of sense. Have the first phase be picking the developer best suited for the job. Then in the second phase, pick the best architect for the job off of the submitted projects each firm would be required to submit, much like a design competition.

Actually I was surprised to see Allied and Holst on the list. I think they are both great firms and have both produced some great works of architecture, but they are never the firms I think about when someone mentions "living building." Though it would be good for both firms to move in that direction, I just dont think they would be ready for something like this yet.

SERA should do good with this, they seem to be getting better with their design work and it would be nice to see them really try to push themselves. Plus I know their sustainability department at that firm is definitely suited to do a "living building."

Katie Z.

Referenced this post on my blog here http://www.djc.com/blogs/BuildingGreen/ . Great information and context!

Eric Cantona

dennis - i would urge you to take a gander at the ecotrust building for an example of Holst's green credentials. not sure if they've done anything recently that screams sustainability, but they've certainly been down that road before.

Brian - was Allied teamed with anyone? as an office that, until the last few years at the very least, had utter disdain for anything 'green', they would seem a bizarre choice for this study. if they were teamed with someone that has walked that walk, then they could've been an inspired choice. but even then it seems weird.


Yes, it would be good to get some sort of specific description of what this building is supposed to accomplish.
What is a scenario whereby this building acts as a genesis for anything? Let alone attract green buinesses here.

"Helping Portland maintain it's edge in Green" is little more than a euphoric desire.
But what does that even mean?

The rhetoric is very familiar. Perhaps some of you can recognize this.

The project, called the Creative Services Center of Excellence, is on a super fast track. It received proposals two weeks ago---the three main partners in the project are the PDC, the Oregon University System and the Creative Coalition Initiative, a consortium of organizations focused on the creative services industry.

The goal of the building will be to attract other creative services-minded businesses to Portland and to Oregon. Do you think this is a good way to attract business? Should Seattle be following in Portland’s footsteps, or are we too different to compare?

The green and sustainable movement is happening in many places with other cities making the same efforts.

The problem as I see it is that "green and sustainable" are ideas and innovations that need no locale in order to participate, adopt and take advatage of.

With the ease of the internet and many organizations any entitity anywhere can utilize all things green and sustainable without regard to their location.
Related businesses don't need to come here.
So why would this building spur businesses to come here?
There is no particular advantage to a green and sustainable "cluster".
So what's the point?
Is it merely to act as a means to tout the city's greenness, lure other municipal junkets to visit and then allow city leaders to pat themselves on the back?

And what happened to the biotech research cluster?


good points Richard, i agree.

i have to go back to dennis' ignorant comments. i have often worked with Holst and can say with confidence they have as much sustainable experience as GBD and SERA. Ecotrust, the leed platinum aia center for architecture, 937 is leed gold at least i think, ziba will be leed gold, and their new project for the homeless center is going to be leed gold. plus they had fx fowle on their team who is designing the greenest projects on the east coast right now, and has been a pioneer in the sustainable architecture realm for as long as i can remember.

as far as comparing Holst and Allied, the similarity is only aesthetic. Holst has never had a project with anything close to the budgets Brad designs with. plus Brad has publicly said in the past he doesn't care about sustainability. pretty different attitudes and skill sets i would say.

LRS is the green rookie in this group. they had the premier expert on their team with Busby, but who would really be doing the work?

Behnisch is a real badass, but he had no local help which would be a big disadvantage when trying to work closely with local jurisdictions on reinventing the wheel.

but hey, enjoy that dream team of GBD and SERA. should be some real hum-dinger ideas.


I am not an expert in this area but this is the information I am hearing...

Countless buildings exist in the world with unique and cutting edge design. There has never before been a large scale building that will have the performance of this structure if successful. In the entire world.

With all due respect, firms having experience with only LEED Gold Buildings, and all these firms only with cutting edge design, will not be able to successfully meet the Living Building Criteria. This is light years beyond LEED.

I don't think even a net-zero building of this scale has been built yet, let alone Living Building. Please save your design complaints for any other project but this one as this is a different animal altogether.


Josh and "advocate",

The point a lot of people with "design complaints" are trying to make is that the building should be inspiring beyond the sustainable features. Otherwise it will not get much notice from the rest of the Architectural profession.

A boring yet exceeedingly sustainable building will further the idea that sustainable projects are rarely beautiful or inspiring.


sorry ben if I came off "ignorant" for going off of how I perceived a firm rather than fully researching their work before making the comment that I don't usually think of them when talking about sustainability.

Though looking on their website, it says nothing about 937 being LEED, and many of their comments about their own work only talks about use of reclaimed wood. Though a couple projects mention LEED. Ziba Office, doesnt mention LEED specifically. So with that noted, you might want to inform them that it would be a good idea to update that so that someone wont make the mistake on saying they "dont think of them as being a sustainable" firm.

As for FX Fowle, I said nothing in nature to who they were working with, I was only commenting about Holst. I am very well aware of FX Fowle's work within the sustainable community.

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