The Fair-Haired Dumbbell has returned in front of the Design Commission, with a revised strategy for its exterior skin. The 64,700 sq ft office and retail building by FFA Architecture and Interiors for Guerrilla Development was originally intended to be covered in a two different florentine wrapping paper designs. The project is now seeking approval as a blank white canvas to be covered with a hand painted mural, the design of which has not yet been chosen. A condition of approval for the building will require that the mural be approved by the Regional Arts & Culture Council through their public art murals process.
The proposed building will be located at the intersection of E Burnside and NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, on the eastern half of Block 76. The block is one of a number of blocks at the Burnside Bridgehead acquired by the Portland Development Commission in the 2000s, who at the time were looking to build a single large development on the multi-block site. After a number of attempts to develop the site failed, they sold off the individual blocks to different development groups. Nearby projects under construction at the Bridgehead include Yard by Skylab Architecture and Block 75 by Works Partnership.
The proposed building is arranged as two linked boxes, from where it gets the “Dumbell” name. Each of the boxes will include 5 floors of office space over ground floor retail. In between the two boxes a roughly 2,000 sq ft plaza is proposed, while a 1,200 sq ft plaza will front onto NE Couch St. No vehicular parking is proposed, but secure parking for 44 bikes will be provided.
A Staff Report and Recommendation to the Design Commission [PDF], published before the October 1st hearing, recommended approval for the project. At the hearing two of the commissioners present appeared ready to approve the project, while two others had remaining concerns. These related to the lack of weather protection at the 6th floor bridge, as well as to the perceived low percentage of glazing on the exterior walls. By City code a tied vote results in denial, and the applicants instead requested a continuance. The project is expected to return in front of the Design Commission on the 15th of October.