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In the same width of property, one could have fit 4 traditional infill row-houses. Besides the novelty of the unique thinking, I don't see any cost or urban density benefit that is the point of row houses. Or am I completely off base?

Michael M.

I ride or walk up and down this stretch of SE 28th regularly and have been watching this go up ever since riding by this lot when they were tearing down the house that once stood there. (That was kinda cool, actually, especially after they ripped off the facade and left the interior exposed like a giant gaping wound. Maybe I've seen too many horror movies.) At first I was really impressed, but as it neared completion my enthusiasm waned somewhat. The interior looks great -- the exterior seems to me to appear both not terribly inviting and terribly exposed, which is something of a curious contradiction. Not that I could consider living in a $640,000 (!) residence, but if I could I think I'd like a little more privacy than the east unit, at least, affords. Still, one of these appears to have sold, which says something given that the Sunrose still has so many unoccupied units.

It's an interesting addition to an area that already has an eclectic mix of residential architecture.

Greg Moore

I guess I'll have to go see this one for myself up close and in person. Too many questions left unanswered. It looks squished into the lot and typical of modern architecture - sticking out in and amongst other more traditional dwellings as a sore thumb. I appreciate the desire to bring new thinking and design to Architecture - but can we please stop building extruded boxes? I don't think row houses are any better of a solution (having once lived in one for 6 years). Is density really the issue here?

Did the designers take the opportunity to evaluate passive cooling and a holistic energy efficiency plan? It seems like those stair towers could have been utilized better.

Ben Rhiger

I live nearby and I'll admit that it's a very attractive structure, but the $600,000+ price tag is totally unacceptable. If Works Partnership had channeled their creative energy into building homes that are innovative and affordable to the majority of Portlanders, they would have really accomplished something. I don't care that they have designed an interesting set of houses in a 20 minute community if only wealthy people can call them home. When are these firms going to be as innovative on the affordability side of infill as they are on the design side?

Max Rockbin

The layout seems questionable to me. I think it would've made a lot more sense to put the stairs in the middle of the building between the units. It would've served as a much more effective privacy buffer than the single concrete firewall. Also, the stairs will act as a chimney - especially with their open format. So putting them at the outside of the structure will result in maximum possible heat loss.

That said, I truly admire the chutzpah of asking $640k for one of these. (I think they sold one already). Five units nearby at close to the peak of the market sold for $475k (for all 5). Not quite as spiffy as this!

I do think the special rust-on-the-surface-only metal will be pretty cool once it ages and gets the full "patina."
I kind of worry about it streaking the white parts of the building below it though.


If you have an issue with the cost, talk to the developer...that's not really the architects decision. They provided what the developer wanted, and in turn he decided he could sell them at that cost to make the project pencil. If the client asked for a duplex that could be sold for 400k each, i'm sure they could have complied.
If you want to see a WPA house on a budget check out their tract home in Ridgefield, a spec home done for Tamarack. Asking price of just over $300k.
I also believe the one occupant at the DUO may be the developer, but don't quote me on that.


Max , that 'rust on the surface' metal was big in the 60's and it turned out it didn't just rust on the surface , but right on thru!
Ruining many buildings. But this younger generation of designers were not around then. As we will be looking at these rusting boxes for a long time , I hope it occurs to someone to just paint them. Pink , Green ,beige , really anything.
While you wait please visit my new article on the Green/Cost issues of the CRC Bridge , Thanks.


I spent some time looking at these and my first thought echos many stated here: wow! what a price tag! The three units built on stark a few years ago still haven't all sold and they are half the price and a much cleaner floor plan. Will these sell?
Personally, I really like the exterior, but some of the detailing gets a little odd and I find the floor plans to be utterly bizarre.

Green as Money

All good points here...but second to Truth's comment- anybody who thinks an architect can or would force a social agenda on a paying client in the worst business market in 30 years is either smoking crack or pontificating from the back room safety of some gihugic firm. Heard somebody bought the first unit and the developer is holding the second.


crack is whack!

matthew daby

nice kicks Brian!


It would be torture to have the east facing unit and see all that pizza over at Ken's across the street every night.

The layouts are clever.

The exterior is overwrought.


Weathering steel failed because it was not used correctly, not because it is an inherently flawed material. I think the way they are using it isn't going to be a problem.

What is so clever about the layout? The entry feels just downright weird to me...like you're basically nowhere until you decide what stair to take. The downstairs bedroom is very isolated...maybe a good guest room, but depressing beyond that. The rest of the layout is pretty traditional contemporary...not really anything special, but not bad either.


Stairs are very cool, but the cleaning between those "studs," which are going to collect copious amounts of dust, is going to be never-ending.

Also, where is the handrail?


Aneeda, maybe you would prefer an entry like this?

What I think is clever is that the split level allows the garage to be sunken, and for the volumes to step down to the street to the east and the neighbor to the west. Without this, the building would either feel too tall or the ground level room would have to be a day-lit basement. This level of thought elevates the design, to me. I just wish the resolution of the exterior materials could have been as elegant.

The ground level room would make a great place to work from home, too.


Flickr Fail. Sorry.

I meant like this

Donna Brantini

WOW. Everyone has what to say. I am visiting from out of town, and happened to just see these today. I wish I lived in Portland, so I could buy the remaining one. It is so much cooler than anything I have seen in NY, San Francisco, or Seattle. As a huge fan of modern architecture, I have been following Works for a few years and I love what they do.The kitchen, and roof top deck are to die for. I think 645k is a bargain, and wish I could call it home. Wake up Portland.

Green as Money

I think the exterior is pretty convincing actually....2 simple boxes with infill wood panels and screens? Imagining the math backwards, once you take out profit, land costs, permits, fees, and financing costs, I bet these were built for about $120/sf, which by the looks of it is pretty amazing. That's not much to work with.

Brian Libby

That's a fair and convincing argument, Green, especially about the square foot cost. You sound like you know what you're talking about.

I also agree that the exterior is simple in its form, the two boxes with infill wood panels and screens. Somehow when I look at the facade from Pine Street, where the two garages are, the combination of weathered steel and the painted wood, they still feel a little less seamless then I would like them to from an aesthetic point of view. The color of the weathered steel feels just a little incongruent with the paint color of the wood. But that's just my own personal aesthetic opinion - and that of a few other commenters.

If a member of Works Partnership were reading this, I'd hope they would take the comments about the exterior in stride and understand it's in the broader context of myself and most others in the architectural community having a very, very high opinion of the firm and its portfolio.


it's just too bad that so few have figured out how to really knit these modern houses to the neighborhood fabric. they all just seem to float in a certain aloof suspension. you don't have to sacrifice innovative, modern design principles to forge a better connection. you just have to be more creative and stop trying to strike a pose. is this the best that portland can do?


GT , I politely disagree , a Modern Architect trys to make the finest design his/her talents and knowledge allow. We should not hobble them with trying to fit in to whatever is next to the site. We all know how many horrible Joe Weston Six Pack Apartments are in town. My thoughts on rusted steel aside , I applaud these Architects for this innovative design , and BL for writing well about it!

SE Clinton

Really billb? Cannot a "Modern Architect" fit within the context, both built and natural? Personally I like how Corten steel looks when washed onto white vinyl windows, or on the sidewalks - a real innovative and spectacular use of material. Seems forced here - trying to stay edgy like true fashionistas.


GT - Architecture is a practice - sometimes the designer's 'finest design his/her talents and knowledge allow' is still a failure in the eyes of those who are forced to constantly experience it (i.e. home owners and businesses in the neighborhood). I think the practice would look very different if Architects could be held financially liable for their context blunders the same way doctors are.



Financially Liable???
context blunder??? who gets to decide? you?I can't even begin to understand your arguement.

If I don't like your comments, should you be financially liable for wasting my time?

Bob Loblaw

crack attack!!!

Doug Klotz

Once again the egotism and hubris of the Modern Architect is allowed to degrade a neighborhood with a building that ignores a comfortable and human scale with blank walls and oversized elements that do not relate to people walking by or just the scale of the streetscape elements such as sidewalk and planting strip. Even without the issue of appropriately scaled elements that relate to neighboring buildings, this one is not appropriately scaled for human beings. The giant "window" opening on 28th, even though it's not completely filled with windows, is way oversized for the street. The blank wall at the sidewalk level is another affront to pedestrians. I'm surprised this met the residential window requirements.

The "Modern Architecture" community is, I'm sure, proud of this, but the building is not a good one to use to sell the style to the general public.


I went to look at the unit that faces SE 28th and "all that pizza", with my family that includes a 17 and 22 yr old (whom it has to be acknowledged are with us less and less but still need to be accommodated). The layout worked for us all in terms of bedrooms and bathrooms, the level of finish in the kitchen was totally luxurious and it's the same in the bathrooms. We all agreed that it'd be really cool to live in the general area from a foodie POV, but the price tag was prohibitive to say the least and we all felt the exposure on the deck to the lines of people waiting to get into Ken's was awful. As we walked out onto the deck at least half the crowd looked up to see what was going on. A small copse is needed up there to give a sense of privacy!

Construction Supplies

I agree with Greg Moore, I would also like see this myself as the images are quite confusing for me in many aspects.

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