The Design Commission has approved two building by GBD Architects on South Waterfront Blocks 42 and 45. The multi-block development will include 519 residential units, in two 7 story buildings. The project is being developed by Cairn Pacific.
Blocks 42 and 45 will be located on vacant land owned by the Prometheus Real Estate Group of San Mateo, CA. The site will be divided into four parcels and two greenway tracts adjacent to the river. SW River Parkway will be extended through the site in the north-south direction. East-west streets SW Abernethy and SW Lowell will be extend from their current terminus at SW Bond to future SW River Parkway.
East of SW River Parkway the street grid will be extended through Blocks 41 and 42 as privately owned accessways, similar to SW Pennoyer St. Public access easements will be required in order to guarantee public access to the river. A separate design review was recently approved for Blocks 41 and 44, which are also being developed by Cairn Pacific.
Block 42 will be located at the northwest corner of the Prometheus property, on the parcel bound by SW Lane, River Parkway, Abernethy and Bond. The building will include 206 residential units. 156 vehicular parking spaces and 310 long term bicycle parking spaces will be provided. Approximately 9,000 sq ft of retail will be provided, oriented to SW Bond St and SW River Parkway. Ground floor walk up units are proposed facing SW Lane St.
The massing of Block 42 is intended to be more granular than is typical for South Waterfront, where every building built to-date has been a full block development. The massing draws conceptual inspiration from stacks of lumber that were once located along the Willamette, such as at the Inman-Poulson Lumber Co.
The primary material for Block 42 will be a light colored brick, laid in either a standard running bond, or in a staggered running bond where every second course is 1-1/2″ proud of the course above or below it. Other materials proposed include glass guardrails, vinyl windows, metal bar rails, aluminum storefront and wood siding.
Block 45 will be located at the southwest corner of the Prometheus property, on the parcel bound by SW Abernethy, River Parkway, Lowell and Bond. The building will include 313 residential units. 200 vehicular parking spaces and 475 long term bicycle parking spaces are proposed. Approximately 5,000 sq ft of retail will be provided, at the at the southeast and southwest corners of the site. A mix of live/work units and walk up apartment units will line the rest of the ground floor.
Block 45 is arranged as three east-west bars, with the massing inspired by historic images of the Kaiser Shipyards that were once located along the Willamette. At the ground level a plaza is proposed between the north bar and the middle bar, allowing for spill out space from the proposed retail units. An elevated courtyard between the middle bar and the south bar is proposed at level 2.
The primary material on the three main bars of Block 45 will be a flashed norman sized red brick, in a running bond. The bridge sections will be clad in a grey green glass reinforced fiber cement panel. Other materials proposed include vinyl windows, aluminum storefront, perforated metal panel and glass guardrails.
Blocks 42 and 45 were approved by the Design Commission on August 31st, following one previous Design Advice Request hearing. Before casting her vote to approve the project, Commission Chair Julie Livingston offered her thoughts on the two buildings:
I would like to echo the comments of other Commissioners, that you have done a great job with everything: from executing the parti all the way through to the smallest details. Both of these buildings are just fantastic additions to South Waterfront.
Building permits will need to be obtained before construction can begin.
Block 45 is an homage to the shipyards, with three hulls lined up in the drydocks, their bare steel awaiting paint.
Also appears to take considerable inspiration from COBE Architects design for Kroyers Plads in Copenhagen. Even the roof and skylights. http://www.cobe.dk/project/kroyers-plads-0
This project looks fantastic.
A Tale of Two Districts
The plan for the redevelopment of the South Waterfront was explicitly modeled on the high-rise developments of False Creek and Coal Harbour in Vancouver BC; residential point towers atop mid-rise podiums and a the street level, high-quality public spaces, including lavish landscaping. The design guidance and the renderings of the South Waterfront at build-out illustrated that vision. And up until the Great Recession, that is the form residential development took there.
To the south, the Pearl District was envisaged as expressing the original character of that railroad warehouse district; somewhat gritty, with mid-rise buildings and an industrial aesthetic.
Since the Great Recession these districts have switched their intended character. High (or at least higher) rise towers have been going up in the Pearl District, supported by high-end public amenities.
During the same period all of the private residential development in the South Waterfront has taken the form of mid-rise blocks with very modest pedestrian spaces (excepts the Willamette Greenway improvements.) Touring the area on foot, I have found the south end of the South Waterfront to be monotonous and a bit bleak. The Prometheus development should add some needed variety and interest to the South Waterfront. (By the way, the original proposal included on high-rise building.)
Compared to efforts in other urban areas I regard both districts a success, although not equally successful.
The point is not about judgement but about the opportunity to better understand the dynamic between residential and commercial markets, public improvements and planning.
There is a lesson here in how character and quality supports higher prices, taller buildings and thus more density and then more supporting commercial uses, like grocery stores. That lesson ought to inform planning, zoning and incentives for future district scale redevelopments.
Finally, the South Waterfront was, I believe, supposed to incorporate about the same proportion of affordable housing as the Pearl District. But it is now clear that the Pearl District will have far more affordable housing units, in total and as a percentage of all housing units, than the South Waterfront. There is another lesson there.
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Meh build point towers