This is an updated version of a post originally published on August 11th 2015.
Construction is well underway on an expansion of the NW Portland International Hostel and Guest House, designed by SERA Architects. The five story building will include 15 dorm rooms, 6 private rooms, and one private residential unit on the top floor for onsite management. Proposed ground floor program includes the lobby and reception; a public cafe; and a kitchen and dining area for the use of guests.
The project will be located on a site at NW 18th & Glisan, immediately to the north of the existing hostel. The hostel is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Elliston Apartments [PDF], and is also located in the larger Alphabet Historic District. The site for the expansion, seen below in 2014, was previously used as surface parking.
The primary materials for the building will include stucco, fiber cement trim, fiberglass windows, aluminum storefront windows, canvas awnings, and metal railings.
The project was approved through a Type III Historic Resources Review on July 27th. Conditions of approval were added that will require transom windows to be added above the storefront windows on the NW 18th and NW Glisan façades, and that a third accent color must be introduced into the color palette. In the Final Findings and Decision By the Historic Landmarks Commission [PDF] the project was found to be compatible with the nearby buildings in the Alphabet Historic District:
As outlined above, the proposed building would replace a surface parking lot at the intersection of two transit streets. The proposed building is designed to be compatible with nearby historic buildings nearby by featuring similar design elements but in a simplified manner. While the building is proposed at 5 stories high, visually, it is only one story taller than the adjacent Elliston, only slightly taller than the Chetopa at 1812 NW Flanders, and slightly shorter than the Wickersham at 410 NW 18th Avenue. Like other buildings of this typology, the proposed building is located at the street lot line, creating a strong urban edge to this commercial building. The purpose of the Historic Resource Review process is to ensure that additions, new construction, and exterior alterations to historic resources do not compromise their ability to convey historic significance. This proposal meets the applicable Historic Resource Review criteria and modification criteria and therefore warrants approval.
A building permit for the hostel expansion was issued in November 2015. At the time of the writing the new building had reached its full height.
I’ve been watching this building go up when I get coffee across the street in the mornings. It looks VERY similar to Park 19 at 19th and Glisan. It looks as though Park 19 is getting new paint already, a nice drab grey color; not sure if that’s just primer, though.
I’m disappointed that the HLC approved this design… the faux historic design that also dwarfs the original building next to it does a lot to diminish the design. A more modern design, or something slightly stylistically different could have helped preserve the visual character here… but instead it just looks like a bargain theme park facade.
If I were going to approve this particular design I would have insisted on much better materials. But, what can you do?