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Bob R.

Of particular interest to me (as a member of the Portland Streetcar CAC), is how the proposals weave the streetcar directly though the property, in what amounts to an extension (at least visually) of the diagonal route the streetcar follows through the PSU urban center.

Such a route would not only be aesthetically interesting, but would be practical, reducing the current single-track bottleneck and tight turns in that area.

The designers note in their blog post that the decision to route one or two tracks through the site remains on the table, with designers leaning toward two tracks. It was a formal recommendation of the Portland Streetcar CAC awhile back that a two track alignment be adopted, for a variety of reasons.


Can someone confirm that those models were produced with a 3D printer?

Eric Cantona

i read somewhere an interview with Norman Foster where he said that the "gherkin" tower (30 st. mary axe) required significantly less steel than a building of similar size because of the egg form. it struck me at the time because, for the most part, when we think of sustainable buildings we usually think of systems design, recycled/local materials and direct energy usage. the notion of reducing material within the structural framework seems a logical outgrowth of that thinking.

i haven't read through the OSC material to see if that's been a primary consideration, but it would certainly add another layer of sustainability.


you misspelled "team".


Bob. thank you for your questions. The team is leaving two streetcar alignments on the table through the first phase. Each have their merits. The single track through the site, leaves a "little" more area for the plaza and other outdoor spaces, but still there is streetcar running through the site, so it is not like the outdoor spaces are unencumbered. Unlike the urban studies center this site has to also deal with an existing building on the sw corner - a three story historic building which squeezes the site in addition to the streetcar. The single track left where it is along SW Montgomery will take some "re-work" to eliminate the difficult crossings on SW 4th avenue, but could be unique in that it runs through a greenstreet. Images of a streetcar running through a bio-swale or meadow come to mind. Leaving the track on Montgomery also precludes it from being a "festival" street and shutting it down for events.

The two tracks through the site frees up SW Montgomery to develop over time as a pedestrian street, while it puts the burden of the streetcar in front of the building. Not a place for large plazas as it is, but certainly makes the plaza to the south of the project more a transit stop and the plazas more a series of pocket parks.

The team will evaluate each option, but in the meantime make certain the design works with either as the details are worked through.


Hi Gerrrg. Those models were made with a laser cutter. Basically they show little skin treatment, but more of the floorplates - they are crude but quick. They obviously look better at oblique angles. With the torque of the form, it is difficult to skin, so for the time being we elected to genereate quick models using floorplates alone. more to come with the complexity of the model as we hone in on a design.


A couple benefits we are finding with the structure given the form. One, it brings the columns to perimeter and not in the way for space planning. The form is in harmony, as the plates twist, so does the skin, and so does the structure. The engineers are developing the columns to work as both gravity and lateral, which will eliminate the need for additional shear elements at the interior or clumsy brace frames. We hope this will prove to be material cutting in that the perimeter structure will do double duty. As for the construction of the bones of the building, that is something the contractor is evaluating. The Gherkin is a great example of reduction of systems, by both integration and simplicity.

please check in with the project blog to get answers, and to stay up to date with the developments. The team wants to continue to present transparency to the design and development - there is a lot for us all to gain by tackling this study.


Bob R.

Kyle -

Thank you for the reply. Your response is very informative, because I did not know that the existing building was going to be preserved. In fact, I was going to prod you about the disposition of the materials in that building, should it be demolished, in keeping with the theme of sustainability. I'm pleased to learn that it will in fact be preserved, which in most cases can be the ultimate in sustainable practices for a given structure.


Thanks. I appreciate the growing influence of rapid prototyping in the field. As prices drop, I hope we could all afford to buy these devices.


Seasonal differences in water and sun light availability would be a huge challenge calling for variability in how water is channeled or possibly how surfaces are positioned relative to the sun, in different seasons. Similar to how water is channeled and shaded in a managed wetland preserve like Fernhill.

With sunlight so low in Portland, having parts of the bioswale higher up on the building could allow for more evaporative affect in winter, when it is most needed, particularly as the surrounding city grows taller. Perhaps the use of deciduous shrubs could help naturally shade these upper swale terraces areas during the hot summer months.


These models remind me of South Waterfront Park, so I hope there will be an exterior treatment different then SWP.

I love how trees and other plantings can, relatively quickly, soften the visual impact of man made structures in the NW.

I hope the exterior vertical surfaces are more organic, literally. Like what’s illustrated in the “site section,” but on the exterior. I imagine more terraced living roofs or walls, incorporating parts of the bioswale needs cascading down the building. During heavy winter rains, small waterfalls might pore down through Oneonta Gorge like moss-covered channels in the building sides.


Since “net zero energy” “has been one of the largest challenges to give 'form' to the concept thus far.” And since they have declared, “a living building on an urban scale can, in fact, be possible. Phew.”

How was this largest of challenges met?

What percent of energy would the PVs provide?


hi steve. the large upper roof is the only place we are planning to capture rainwater, which will then be channeled down into a 150,000 gallon storage tank. The lower gardens will be part eco-roof and part terrace, so water will be absorbed, and either saturate and convey to the ground level bio-swale or evaporate. Trees and shrubs for shade would be a nice touch - we will be working with the landscape architects in the coming months to begin to define those spaces.

The building in the end will have excess water, and will likely recharge that into the aquifer through Montgomery Street. For electrical load the building will be net-metered which means it will over produce during the summer and feed the grid, but in the winter draw off the grid - the net target is zero at the end of the year.


hi Earl. Thanks for your question. As mentioned above the energy is net-metered, so excess is dumped onto the grid during the summer months, and the building draws off the grid during the winter months. 100% of the energy is produced by the PV array. 80% of that production is from the roof and canopy elements alone. There are integrated PV sunshades and amorphous thin film on the spandrel elements which make up the other 20%. That oversimplifies really what is going on though. In order to capture all the energy needs on the site, the demand for energy within the building has to be brought way down resulting in a building that consumes well over 70% energy savings from a code building. In addition to the PV for energy load, we are utilizing ground source heat pumps which although don't produce energy per se, they offset the building load by providing an alternate means for heating and cooling for the building. The strategy there is to use radiant systems and thermal storage in the mass of the building.


correction: ...the building...consumes over 70% "less" energy than compared to that of a code compliant building.

check out the blog for updates or another place to ask questions and get the answers.


really good

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