The Design Commission has approved a major renovation of the Conway Leland James Center, which will see the existing building gain an additional story and an entirely new facade. The building will primarily be used as creative office space, with three new retail units added at the ground floor. An existing basement will be converted in parking for 72 cars and 150 bikes. Showers and lockers will be provided for the benefit of bike commuters. The design of the project is by SERA Architects for developers Cairn Pacific and Capstone Partners.
The existing building at NW 22nd and Raleigh is one of a number of buildings located on the 25 acres of land in Northwest Portland controlled by the trucking company Conway. The Leland James Center was built in 1973, and was used by Conway as an office and data center.
While the company continues to have a large presence in the area, their truck maintenance and depot have now moved off site, and much of their property has become surplus. After years of work, a masterplan for the entire site was approved in 2012. The first buildings to be approved in the masterplan area were the LL Hawkins and Slabtown Marketplace, which include the first branch of New Seasons Market in NW Portland.
The existing three story building will be stripped to its steel frame, which will be newly exposed at the interior. A new penthouse level will be added, constructed out of heavy timber framing and clad with metal panels. At the penthouse level a series of roof decks will be added, one for the common use of all building tenants and five for individual tenants at the top level. In between them will be a series of planted ecoroofs. The lower floors will be reclad with a brick veneer. New aluminum windows will be significantly larger than the existing windows on the building. Wood storefront windows and doors will be added at the ground level.
In conjunction with the Conway Blocks 295E and 296E project, still in Design Review, the project will create a new pedestrian access way between NW Raleigh and Savier. A new elevated dock with the potential for outdoor seating will align with the existing ground floor level of the building.
An existing sky bridge of NW Savier will be retained and converted into what the architects are calling a “sky porch”. The structure will be stripped of its glass cladding, and open for the use of the office tenants. Through access to the Conway building to the North will no longer be allowed.
A Staff Report and Recommendation to the Design Commission [PDF], published before the project’s first hearing on October 15th, recommend approval for the project. The renovation drew strong praise, with Commissioner Vallaster stating that there wasn’t much to object to, and that the project is “well conceived and well put together.” Commissioner Livingston summed up her feeling by saying “I think the building is great; I think it’s the building it always wanted to be. So thank you for making that happen.” Having now passed Design Review the architects will need to apply for building permits before work can begin.