The Design Commission has reviewed Framework, a Cross Laminated Timber building that is likely to become the tallest mass timber building in the USA. The 11 story, 142′-2″ tall building by Lever Architecture will include 31,260 sq ft of office space on levels 2 to 6, and 60 apartments on levels 7-11. The apartment units, operated by Home Forward, will all be reserved for those earning less than 60% of area median family income. The developer for the building is Project^, acting for the owner Beneficial State Bank. 69 bicycle parking spaces will be provided on the ground floor of the building, and 40 in the studio apartments above. No vehicular parking spaces are proposed.
Framework will be located on a quarter block site at NW 10th & Glisan, directly adjacent to the now under construction Canopy Hotel. The site is currently occupied by a branch of Albina Community Bank (which is 90% owned by Beneficial State Bank). After construction is complete the bank will move back into the ground floor retail space facing NW 10th Ave. The ground floor of the building will also contain a double height lobby, with an exposed timber structural frame, and an exhibition space about tall wood buildings. A small cafe is proposed for the lobby space.
Though used in Europe since the 1990s, Cross Laminated Timber is still new to the USA. CLT panels are made by gluing together many smaller pieces into a larger assembly that has sometimes been described as “plywood on steroids”. Portland is on the leading edge of CLT adoption in the US, with under construction projects that include Albina Yard (also by Lever Architecture) and the 8 story Carbon12.
Framework is one of two projects (the other is in New York) that received funding as part of the 2015 U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition. The $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is being used conduct the fire and seismic testing necessary for the building to obtain permits from the State of Oregon and the City of Portland. The building is being designed to be repairable after a major seismic event, through the use of “replaceable energy dissipating “fuses,” steel post-tensioned rods along the length of the building’s core, and non-proprietary floor-to-wall connections providing self-centering characteristics that allow the building to sway and return to its prior position following a seismic event.”
Because wood sequesters carbon emissions, the designers hope that the building can pave the way to carbon neutral construction. As building codes get revised to accept CLT as a structural material it could offer an alternative to steel or concrete, which would normally be used for buildings of Framework’s height.
The primary material for the skin of the building will be Aluminum Composite Material (ACM), with deeply punched openings for operable fiberglass windows. Other materials include board formed concrete, aluminum curtain wall and storefronts.
At the 12th level of the building a roof terrace with a community garden may be provided, depending on budget considerations.
Framework went before the Design Commission on July 7th, where it drew strong praise from the Commissioners present. Commissioner Savinar stated that he believes it is an “extraordinary building” that he will be “very proud to have” in the city. Two neighbors spoke in opposition to the building, citing concerns about parking, school enrollment, whether the building blends into the warehouse character of the Pearl, and about the impact of low income tenants in the area. Three letters of concern were received before the hearing, as well as a letter from the Pearl District Neighborhood Association “stating support of both the design and the program” of the building.
A Staff Report and Recommendation to the Design Commission [PDF], published before the hearing, did not yet recommend approval for the project. While staff found that the “building is an elegant, straightforward and coherent design, and offers high quality materials, a unique structural solution, and meaningful details”, there were still unresolved technical issues related to the ecoroof FAR bonus and the stormwater management strategy. Framework is currently scheduled to go before the Design Commission for a second Design Review hearing on August 18th.