Oregon Square has returned before the Design Commission for its second Design Review hearing, with a number of changes made in response a previous hearing held in August. The massive superblock development by American Assets Trust, GBD Architects and Place Studio landscape architects will include 940 residential units and 50,000 sq ft of retail, with a new public plaza at its center. Surrounding the plaza will be four buildings, varying in height from 11 to 30 floors. 908 below grade parking stalls will be provided in a below grade parking structure. Over 1,500 bike parking spaces will be provided for the use of residents, visitors and employees.
The development is the second phase in the redevelopment of American Assets Trust’s Lloyd District properties. The first phase, Hassalo on Eighth, is nearing completion immediately the north. The Oregon Square site is a superblock bound by NE 7th Ave, NE Holladay St, NE 9th Ave and NE Oregon St. It is currently developed with four low rise office buildings, built by the Lloyd Corporation between 1939 and 1950. None are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, though all four have been identified as eligible for inclusion.
The four proposed buildings all have L-shaped plans at their podiums, which will wrap around the central square. In the north-south axis the square will act as the terminus to the reinstated NE 8th Ave, a pedestrian only street running through the center of the American Assets Trust properties. In the east-west direction the plaza aligns with NE Pacific Ave, which leads to the main entrance of the Oregon Convention Center.
The 300′ x 300′ square will include a large water feature, trees, storm and waste-water treatment planting, as well as a stair and elevator pavilion that connects to the underground parking. The retail lining the square will be double sided, with frontages to both the surrounding streets and the square. The designers imagine that the square could be used for performances, public events or the Lloyd Farmers market, which is currently held on the site on Tuesday mornings.
Proposed for the northwest corner of the development, across the street from the recently completed Velomor, is Block 91. The 11 story building will include 160 residential units. The primary exterior material for the building would be smooth white brick with a running bond coursing. Given the strong praise received by the building in August, only minor changes were made to the building.
At the north east corner of Oregon Square will be Block 102, located directly across the street from the nearly complete Aster Tower. Given the criticism of the design at the previous hearing, it has received a major redesign, and is now arranged as two interlocking forms. Facing NE Holladay Street the building will be clad in a dark brown GFRC panel system, while the NE 9th Ave form will be clad in a white stack bonded brick. Despite the massing changes, the building is still proposed to be 11 stories with 163 units.
The changes to the building were very well received, with Commissioner Wark stating that it has “come farther than any other building in terms of where it started to where it is now. It’s starting to rival Block 90… it’s improved light years.”
Block 90 would be the second tallest tower in the development, located at its southwest corner. The 21 story building is proposed to include 274 units. Materials proposed include white glass fiber reinforced concrete panels, metal panels in white and two shades of bronze, as well as white honed precast concrete panels.
In response to comments raised at the first Design Review hearing the architects have worked to simplify the facades and emphasize the building parti. A lighter bronze color has been chosen for the metal panels to reduce the contrast between the light and dark tones of the tower. In response the changes made Commissioner Kaiser described it as a “great stride forward”, though continued to push for further simplification of the glazing pattern. Commissioner Livingston described the west facade of the tower as her favorite in the whole development.
At a maximum height of 343′-6″ Block 103 of Oregon Square will be the tallest building in the city east of the Willamette, and will include 347 residential units in its 30 stories. The primary material proposed for the tower is a glass curtainwall system, with white metal panels.Honed white precast concrete is proposed for the podium element of the tower. Since the first hearing the white panel have been reorganized so that they continue straight where the facade is flat, and only fracture where the building mass fractures. Wood was removed at the ground level and replaced with board formed concrete, although this change met some resistance from the Commission who didn’t think it an appropriate material for the ground level of this project.
A Staff Report and Recommendation to the Design Commission [PDF], published before the October 1st hearing, did not yet recommend approval. In general the Commission welcomed the revisions made since the first review, and their outstanding issues were increasingly minor. The lone major issue left was the height of Block 90, which will result in a large shadow cast on the square in mid-afternoon. After the issue was brought up at the last hearing, the applicants provided sun studies showing that decreasing the height of Block 90 by ten floors only results in 5% additional solar access averaged across the year. At 3pm on December 22nd there would be zero difference, as sun is so low that the square will be shaded regardless. At 3pm on June 22nd a ten floor reduction would result in 12% increase in solar access, though most of the square would receive sun all day regardless of the height of Block 90. The biggest difference would be at 3pm on March/September 22nd, when a 10 floor reduction would 24% extra area of solar access.
Three out of four commissioners present seemed satisfied with the response, though Commissioner Kaiser continued to push for height to be removed from Block 90 and added to Blocks 91 and/or 102. When asked if Oregon Square would receive his vote were they to leave the building heights as currently proposed, he respond that they may not, although noted that the project almost certainly has the votes to pass absent his support.
The project is currently scheduled to return before the Design Commission on November 5th.