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I think the Bside6 siding is brown.

Is Ziba a Potestio conception with execution by HolSt?

John Holmes, Holst Architecture

Just to clarify, Mahlum was initially hired for the project after interviewing several firms including Holst. That relationship eventually broke down due mainly to the project being over budget. At that time we were hired. We added a story to the building and began the design process again, resulting in a much different building.

Brian Libby


This is a prickly subject. I probably never should have mentioned Rick and Mahlum. Holst is the architect on this building, plain and simple. I just wanted to give some credit to Rick Potestio because I'm a big fan of his work and at one time the Ziba commission was a big deal for him and Mahlum. But the last thing I want to do is take any credit away from Holst, which has done a fabulous job.


Some interesting things going up in Portland. I'm sensing a little Rotterdam influence in both the Ziba building and the proposed RAC by Holst. Can't quite put my finger on it, something to do with the semi-public spaces vis-a-vis massing in both. I think they're nice.


Great building by Holst for Ziba. But let's please drop the pretense about it being "thrifty". There is nothign thrifty about that building. They spared no expense anywhere that I can see, inside or out. Its a great luxury for an architect to have a client with a fat wallet. It only happens on those rare owner-occupied buildings like the Ziba HQ. If it were spec, it wouldn't be that building, or anything close to its level of quality or design.

And Bside6.... what's thrifty about it? If you are going to make that a big part of your praise, put it in context. What did it cost as compared to a comparable spec office building? I like the building (except for the oilcanning metal panels and shoddy install details) but I doubt it was particularly thrifty. And sadly, the construction delays on that project must be particularly painful for the owners.


Not sure what context you want to talk about T: Gresham 2-story strip mall buildings that cost about $80/sf, or downtown high density spec office buildings -which the Bside6 building was significantly cheaper than, even though it had all the same technical challenges and was taxed by a tiny footprint. The construction delays were due to Gray-Purcell going bankrupt in a slow and agonizing way....and yes, that was a huge challenge for everybody associated with the project.


Well said, bill.

Maybe T can comment further about the shoddy install details. No building is perfect, of course, but Bside6 looks to be very well done.


Notice how touchy architects are about credit? Raise the question and an hour later the name on the door himself blogs to set the record straight. Is that insecurity I smell?


Actually 'me', i think that would officially be 3/5's of the name on the door. But heck who's counting.


Bside6 details in question - that is a pretty photo in the blog, but take a close look at that building, becasue a year from now they will be tearing it apart looking for the leak. the sheetmetal detailing around the cheap CHEAP metal paneling is crap. For the life of me I cannot figure out how this building will age. I wonder how they will keep water out on the exposed slabs where the glass wall sits directly on it. And cold floors will create havoc in the comfort. I think it is bold, but nothing to rant about - sorry I think as a piece of architecture it is ego-centric and the layperson doesn't get the effort. I think it would have been better on paper rather than built. Good Luck to the owner!


I like the Bside6. Yeah, it's a little overblown in places, but it's exactly the kind of building that is needed to continue the renaissance that is happening on east burnside. I hope the ground floor retail matches the energy of the building. Some of the detailing is kind of unfortunate, but frankly who really cares? If we picked apart every building the way we do higher design, there would be no end to the criticism.

WPA should be praised for going bold. There's just not enough of that in Portland.


I really like the Bside6...it has it issues, sure, but it's interesting and definitely stands apart from any other building in town. I really enjoy the play of positive and negative space the facade employs. The Ziba building...not sure what the hubbub is about, seems pretty dull to me...but to each his own, right!


sorry - overdone - all concept - poor on execution - architecture is different than other artforms in that it has to function - this is a piece of crap and all the buzz about the bold form (give it that) will wash away with the unpleasantness. CRAP..! Hate it.! Gvie me more grey metal pillow panels please.!


i agree i think it is unfortunate that this design turned out to be all about image and lacks the scale and detail that makes a building a lasting piece of the urban fabric. Have to say it - it reminds me a lot of my childhood tetris fun - now frozen on Burnside....


H-lin, I've wondered the same thing about how much of Postetio / Mahlum's work did Holst start with.

If Postetio / Mahlum made it through the planning stage, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that how they chose to layout the program on that narrow site with northern view / light is essentially similar to Holst's final plan.

Another reason to suggest this is there are similarities to the Ziba building and the North Portland Clinic Postetio / Mahlum did on North Interstate. The length of both long floor plans are divided into a series of double height masses housing program that serve the main space. In both cases the masses are set back from a continuous window. Ziba's north facade is similar to the medical facilities east facade in that the facade composition reads as one large rectangle placed tight to the parapet and surrounded by the resulting u-shape wall. I'm sure a more detailed study of both buildings would reveal more similarities.

Might explain why Mr. 3/5 was so quick to respond to the issue of credit. It would muddy the story of his plum project if revealed it was influenced by the work of the previous architectural firm.

Anybody at Mahlum want to post their Ziba work we can set the record straight once and for all?


wanted to post an image of the north portland clinic.


even the vantage angle and tracer rendered vehicles are oddly similar to the ziba picture at the top of brian's blog. are these two projects separated at birth?

would love to see Mahlum's early Ziba work because the more I look at the North Portland Clinic the more I think Holst basically picked up where somebody else left off.


I want to thank HolSt and Wpa for giving us two remarkable buildings. Compelling works of architecture inspire people to love just as they inspire others to hate. Clearly, you've done both. Congratulations.

I'm never shocked when critics speak from assumptions rather than knowledge. Special congratulations go to T regarding costs, bill-a regarding thermal bridging, and a double-dip for bill-a regarding waterproofing. "I cannot figure out how this building will age. I wonder how they will keep water out on the exposed slabs where the glass wall sits directly on it." True dat, bill-a, YOU don't know.

Well done folks.

As for authorship. Ziba is all HolSt. I was giving Brian a chance to clarify his imprecision regarding Po's involvement.


If North Portland Clinic and Ziba were separated at birth then they make a clear case for nurture over nature.


actually h-lin you are the one that does not see the impact of poor detailing. if this was a condo project, either housing or office, then the lawyers would be at the doorstep on this one. I think you are praising from conjecture alone and this project WILL NOT withstand. Exposed slabs should be insulated, and further where dissimiliar materials meet, you have to protect those joints from erosion - caulking alone will not do it...trust me I know and I am telling you this WILL fail. I think too much credit is being given to these from the inner circle that do not really understand how to put a building together. The Holst project seems more sound, but again, give me a break this is a Pearl District infill - what a big urban infill gesture this is? not. this is a small project well designed with a fat budget - treat this as any other infill for spec and it would look very different, or you would command such high rents that it would make it not possible. I urge you h-lin to drive by Bside6 and take a close look you cannot blur the lack of craft that was executed, and you cannot excuse the contractor or the speed, recovery from a non performing contractor to excuse this. This is an edifice, and you have to measure architecture on greater levels than being different or bold. sorry - it is a piece of crap with lipstick.


You don't know me. Don't presume to know my area of expertise.

"caulking alone will not do it..." You clearly don't know how the detailing works on this building. (shrug)

Also, you should review the thermal model before making claims about exposed slab edges and such.

As for conjecture: oh, such irony. I suggest that you, bill-a, instead of driving by, speak of what you know, first hand, not from the back seat of your mom's minivan.


Mr. Brian Libby,

Thank you for profiling WPA and Holst and bringing attention to the recent Portland Monthly article.

With regard to bside6, I can assure the blogging community that bside6 is exactly as it was intended to be - every last detail. The architects and I, among others, have monitored all and I mean all details including but not limited to each comment mentioned by bloggers and others above. These details and many more were pondered, considered and ultimately decided upon several years ago. There is nothing random about this process and those above that speak from a place of misinformation would be wise to choose their words carefully. Ignorance is not bliss. Design is never random or unintended at least not good design.

Rest assured the retail tenants and the office tenants will be worthy!

WPA and Holst are two top shelf firms that have and will continue to make a significant impact on our fair city. Flame on!!!

(apologies in advance for any late night typos)


I think it would be bad representation to suggest that the details on Bside6 are "exactly as it was intended to be - every last detail."...and "Design is never random or unintended at least not good design". Can't touch that - I beg everyone to look closely at this building - take off the rose colored glasses.


h-lin back at you. Looks like a cheap window system sitting on the slab. I wish my mom still drove me around but that stopped some 30 years ago. I watched the building be built-no curb for the window to rest on to dam water from blowing in and seat some flashing on. You can set the window in a bed of sealant or even block it up for that 20th century detail and protection - AND IT WILL FAIL. For thermal conductivity - it is pretty obvious I would suggest you sign up form physics class when you enter college - exposed mass finds equilibrium - so exposed outside to COLD weather will get colder and that will then radiate into the WARM space again to find equilibrium - this will pretty much happen all the time unless the mass is excessive enough to offset the time swing, but this is not - maybe an 8" slab, but probably less. Maybe it is a radiant slab, then I could be convinced otherwise. So please, thank you, I don't need to have smoke blown up my ass. The building is wrapped up turd. Hideous the more you and others prop up the architecture without really understanding the impact to the life of the building.
The architects chose to spend allowances the way they did, so rather than defend them when the choices were bad, they should step up and probably changed something else to improve the envelope rather than others say it was all on purpose. Yeah that random oil-canning is on "purpose" and part of the design intent. Puke. Approached from the West it is an eyesore.

p.s. i like the ziba building it is solid and well designed and detailed, but certainly had a little more money to spend.


Again, if that's your understanding of the sill condition then you don't know how this building is assembled.

As for the thermal break at the 10" slab edges; far and away the greatest thermal bridge in this building is the window wall: the window frame, the IG unit, and the joint between them. Insulating that slab edge is a waste of money. The exposed underside of slab above the sidewalks is another story, and it's insulated.

As for physics class: perhaps you need a primer. Cold does not radiate. Cold is the lack of heat and the chill one feels next to a window wall is heat radiating away from your body.


Where the glass system sits on the slab - this detail will fail. Thank you - you are right about the sidewalk slabs - i did watch those, and that would have been huge mistake. Without a "thermal break" the mass will absorb and radiate / transfer. Maybe I have my nomenclature wrong, regardless, the warm slab exposed to the COLD will absorb that and will "feel" cold under your feet...the cold will seek the warmer mass - your body, the floor, the space whatever is in there. People don't put their feet on the window wall, and people do put their feet on the floor when they sit to work - but I am sure they will find a nice pair of fluffy socks to insultate them. I am not convinced - give it a couple cold days in winter and it will change the comfort - face it insulating the slab edge was either a cut, or a cleaner detail could not be designed. A sacrafice - why build architecture - do a sculpture in the park and spare us the empty conviction.


Well, fortunately, the glass system never "sits on the slab" in this building. (shaking head)

I was referring to the elevated slabs above the sidewalk which are exposed to weather at their underside.

The slab edges will allow heat to radiate out of the building. I'm not arguing that point.

My contention is that the heat loss will result in a slightly cooler walking surface in the three feet closest to the edge. On the coldest days of the year, when standing in that zone, the chill from the window will be far more salient...because you're virtually leaning against the glass.

Also, I encourage you to always wear socks and shoes in the work place. Your feet are nasty.


I suspect fuzzy socks will be required. I was not bringing up heat loss that is the building's problem to deal with energy consumption, but rather I am mentioning comfort...cold floor, wear heavy socks.

As for the window system - enlighten us - unless you have some blocking burried in the sill can, which I still argue will not suffice, then I still see many places where the window system sits on the slab. I will dig up a photo to point it out.

Eric Cantona

the back-and-forth battle between you two is starting to get tiresome.

bill-a: sure the building has issues, but since you don't own it, what's the big deal? my guess is that the developers know that there would be some trade-offs when going for an iconic design. i bet they have no trouble attracting tenants, or keeping them. additionally, several of Corbusier's and Wright's buildings had serious problems due to inadequate detailing, but continue to be lauded nonetheless. not saying this building is up there with the master's, but it is quite a departure from the standard, and hopefully will provide impetus for other developers to take similar chances.

l-lin: you've got to acknowledge that there are some serious detailing issues going on with the building. maybe not as life threatening as bill-a is describing, but it is most definitely not all top shelf work. personally i'm OK with that, and think that overall the building is a success.

one discussion that's been going on in my office is about the massing of it. heading east on burnside it works very well seen on end. coming the other direction it feels unbalanced. from that angle the depth of the building feels inadequate (to me) to counterbalance the cantilevered portions. some here think that tension is a good thing. i'm not sold. when/if a similarly sized building is built on the other half of the block, this concept will be much stronger.

one other niggling detail: the distance from the street lamp to the base of the cantilevered section is way too close. seems like someone forgot to add the lamp into their sketchup model...

on the balance, i actually really like it. hopefully we'll see more boldness like this in the future.


Unless, unless, unless.

You don't know what primary, secondary, and tertiary measures are taken in this assembly. Don't worry about sending photos. I suppose the architects could publish/describe the details, but, why should they teach you how to detail a building without monster skirt flashing? I suggest they smugly watch as you gather rope.

And, yes, I do understand your comfort argument. That is why I addressed it directly.





not convinced - your arguments are a bore - proof is in the time.

bored - the building is dog - woof woof.


I always enjoy Eric Cantona's comments. Something in his writing voice makes me think he is hot to trot.

Eric Cantona

oh yes, totally. without a doubt. yup.

fabulously wealthy, too.

Eric Cantona

not to mention french.



One shouldn't condemn the detailing unless one knows what the detailing is. It's irresponsible.


Speaking of voice ... Something in bill-a's voice just makes him seem dumb and childish.


know you are so smart. I guess that is why you named yourself that.

look up architecture...by some measures on this post - good architecture leaks. good one and cliche. I think all the tetris effects, oil canning, shitty detailing of the metal panel, and how the pop outs like an RV stitched together is pastiche. I think the view from the west is horrible - it looks slapped together. sorry - turd on burnside to me. I pray we don't see more of this, if we did it would only amplify how crappy a solution it is. Watch it sit empty. It is bold and I will continue to say that, but it falls apart in execution.


Ha Ha. All you critics have the architects in this town shaking in their boots...afraid to draft another wall section or window detail. I say good for Works and Holst for putting out interesting design. All this talk about detailing is completely ridiculous.



I would love to see one of your built designs. Could you post an image and information? It would be great if we had the chance to learn from your example.


^I concur. I suspect more than a bit of resentment here. Bill-A, would you be so kind as to provide links to your designs? From your posts, I'm expecting very drab, but utilitarian, concrete blocks.

I also love how in the last posts, everyone was pissed that the living building feasibility study's design wasn't avant guarde enough. Now we're letting people walk all over a design-forward building just because, based on eye-balling it, they think it won't work functionally. Now, unless some of you are holding out on me, I seem to be surrounded by a shit-ton of old, mediocre Portland office buildings. Let's face it: both of these buildings are huge steps forward in terms of design and functionality. Unless you can show me your own awesome, fully executed, design-forward, net-zero, God's gift to man high-rise building, then quit acting like it exists. We all like to come on here and critique architecture and push designs farther, but let's not become a completely vitriolic snake-pit. As Obama says: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."


Meow. Still ugly and POORLY executed.

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