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Normally designs are refined; this looks more like the work of two different designers.

I don't really see where the beauty is in that giant roof platform...first thing that came to mind: scale.


I'm not sure I agree entirely with the renovation thoughts. Normally I would, but I think it's clear and exception should be made for undeveloped parcels Downtown. Especially one that's a surface parking lot. Simply due to where it is, it is inevitable that at some point, this parcel will have something built on it. The number of empty lots is finite, and I think there's something to be said for locking any of these into having minimal impact. Nobody else would build a building to these kinds of standards, this seems to be a potentially wasted opportunity, while chances to renovate places US Custom house are not irreparably harmed by this development.

What bugs me, is how we demolish structures to make way for new ones when there are still good alternatives. The 1930s brick building I presently live in is apparently going to be getting smashed to bits to make way for PSUs new school of business building in 2014. Not pleased. This block is 100% PSU owned, is about half parking lot and half structures, and they're tearing down the structure half to put a new building up, presumably because they'd prefer it if their shiny new building faced the park blocks instead of the other way.


The renderings are pretty. At first I thought that I was looking at two different schemes, mistaking the South and the North facades as different version.
I understand the south facade is doing different work than the north, but they seem too disparate.
The south side seems like a suburban office building. I would like to see more of what is happening at the street level to get a better idea of the urban scale here. Part of the issue is trying to use the funky piece of land where the street car cuts through.
The building will cast a big shadow to the north, which seems to go against good solar siting principles.
Having worked on partnered architectural projects before, I imagine that there have been some challenges within the GBD/SERA team. This, unfortunately, is evident in the somewhat schizophrenic design.
I think the design could be greatly simplified and I know there are a lot of smart, creative people on the team who can make it right.
The renderings make it look somewhat finalized and I hope there is some room for improvement. There will be a lot of eyes on this one and I wish the team the best of luck.


I would like to see at least some re-use of salvage materials, since they aren't using an old building.
Also, the massive solar panel roof seems oppressive. Why are they not incorporating an eco-roof garden, to provide habitat to urban birds, as well as sustainable water runoff filtering?

Heidi Bertman

Thank you for including comments from Berkebile. I have long pushed for superior attention to aesthetics on so-called sustainable building projects. It is precisely because we need to make these the very best places to be in order to spur real progress. All the bells and whistles tacked on to make a building more efficient or even net-zero are only worth the monetary savings on performance if the place thrives.

I agree that the design is better than it was; it has calmed down some. However, there is a disconnect between the massing and formal gestures and an innovative approach to making a place for research and discovery. The imagery is a bit too familiar to this Portlander to convey the mission. Yet.

This is not to denegrate the team at all; the complexity of a project with multiple funding sources and a partnered team is daunting. Their receptiveness to public comment and refinements to the design so far are commendable.

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