PAE Living Building Receives Design Advice (images)

A proposal to build a mixed-use retail and office building, designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, has gone in front of the Historic Landmarks Commission to receive design advice. The PAE Living building is being designed by ZGF Architects, with developer Gerding Edlen acting as the owner’s representative. PAE Engineers would be one of the occupants. The 5-story building would include nearly 5,000 sq ft of ground level retail space, with four floors of office above it. No vehicular parking is proposed.

PAE Living Building

The PAE Living building would be located at SW 1st and Pine, on a site slightly larger than a quarter block. The site, is one of the “Ankeny Blocks” that the Goodman family’s Downtown Development Group announced was available for redevelopment in 2016. The site is located directly east of the Pine Street Market and is currently used as surface parking. Another Ankeny Blocks project, 230 Ash, is now under construction one block to the west.

PAE Living Building

The primary exterior material for the building would be brick veneer, with inset fiberglass casement windows. Metal panel would be used at the window heads. The building would be framed with cross-laminated timber.

Sustainable features of the building, required in order to meet the Living Building Challenge, will include rainwater capture, rooftop solar panels, the use of locally sourced materials, and natural ventilation.

PAE Living Building
PAE Living Building
PAE Living Building
PAE Living Building

The PAE Living Building went in front of the Landmarks Commission on January 28th, for an advisory Design Advice Request meeting. Issues identified in a staff memo, published before the meeting, included: the extend to which the building will be required to step back from the historic lot lines on SW 1st Avenue, in order to widen the sidewalk; the massing, scale and form of the building; and the overall style of the building, which is intended to be a modern interpretation of the character of the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District.

The project was generally well received by the Landmarks Commission. Commissioner Chung noted how the building could set a positive precedent for other new construction projects on vacant lots:

From a precedent setting perspective, if you’re able to do this, I think it will do wonders from a historic preservation perspective to tout the benefits of this type of construction in historic districts, and what can be done. We need some positive examples of progressive architecture in historic districts.

In order to gain approval the project will be required to go through a Type III Historic Resource Review, with public hearings in front of the Landmarks Commission.


19 thoughts on “PAE Living Building Receives Design Advice (images)

  1. What a beautiful building! I love how the architects have managed to reference the historic surroundings in a modern way. I know from reading this blog how controversial it can be, building a new building in an historic district; it always ends up being an argument between building something ultra modern and off-putting to fans of historic architecture and doing what many posters refer to as a “Disney-fied” look of recreating the past. I think if more buildings were this well thought out and reflective of both the old and the new, we’d have far less disagreements and a much better designed city.

  2. It looks like the predominant character of the immediately vicinity is 1/2 block parking lots (which have probably been there for 50 years, and thus “historic”!). Any building would be more like the contributing resources (i.e. a building), than what’s there now..

  3. This is a very handsome proposal, and of course the fact that it is reaching for the Living Building standard is fantastic. Full steam ahead!

    • Great question. There was a recent article in Bloomberg mentioning the boring era of the 5+1 building proposals we are in now. Portland is definitely leading the pack in this.

      It’s unfortunately a boring era of a building boom we are in now. Luckily we have the new 35 story tower coming but other than that Portland keeps banging out these 5+1s over and over again.

      Here’s the article highlighting these boring 5+1s:

      • I just read that today as well. Good article. I think the historic district with its 75′ height limit will be getting almost exclusively 5/1 buildings on those undeveloped parcels. This living building proposal would be a nice departure.

      • The Bloomberg article is about stick framed buildings, a construction type that is rarely used for multistory office buildings. This proposal is for a building framed with Cross Laminated Timber and heavy timber posts and beams. That method of construction has significant differences from stick framing.

  4. One of these days a lot of people are going to DIE in a fire in one of these cheaply built apartment buildings. But, as long as the developers are profiting, what else matters? We can always make new people…..

    • These buildings all have sprinklers, and the fire death rate of buildings with sprinkler systems approaches zero. Can you find even one recent instance of someone dying in a building fire where there was a working sprinkler system? I know you’re obsessed with how “cheaply built” these things are, with absolutely nothing to back it up other than your own misplaced cynicism, but a mass amount of people will probably never die in any building with a sprinkler system, regardless of how “cheaply built” some whiny nobody on the internet thinks it is.

    • Considering how hard it is to meet the Living Building Standard, and that this will be made with heavy timber, this building is going to be anything but cheap. And as AB says, 99% of new construction in the US is massively more safe than older buildings.

    • Chris, I understand that people associate wood buildings with fire, but the CLT construction has undergone years of testing and has been found to resist big fires, which is one reason it has caught on in Europe and other parts of the world long before the U.S. The laminated wood is very thick and burns as easily as that yule log you put in your fireplace years ago that charred on the outside then went out and was damn near impossible to ignite afterwards. That’s why we split logs we want to burn.
      The charring of logs actual insulates the wood within from igniting. As I understand it, CLT construction has tested better in a fire in several respects than steel or even concrete. It’s a perfect for our part of the world and in my view is beautiful to look at from both the outside and the inside.

  5. Please more point towers! Stop wasting this spots that are downtown for stubby little buildings when you can fill more people in point towers thus creating more dense areas

    • Please focus your comments on the subject at hand. This proposed PAE building is in a national historic district. No point tower can be constructed on its site.

      • Well yes duh it’s in a historic district but I’m just saying why are we wasting these spots for stubby buildings when Portland is all about dense non sprawling polices??

        Why not fill the downtown core with the values the city is trying to portray in close in dense areas? Point towers filling residents by going up instead of out is the key. Why are we getting these stupid 5+1 stubs?

        • because 5+1 stubs work, Connard.
          You should see what was there before it was a parking lot. I would name the building but I don’t have my Portland’s Historical Cast Iron book on hand. I’ll come back to add that. Anyway, the building that was previously placed on the site was much more pleasing to the eye than most developments. I wish the architects would at least make a nod to what was there before as it was part of our commerce history.

      • Point towers are tall but barely have any units in them.

        Portland doesnt need tall towers for skyscraper fanatics obsessed with height to fawn over or for narcissist architects to bolster their already oversized egos.

  6. its looks cold has no ornate elements at all those zigzag windows suck dont build it plz i dont like it
    why not build a Italianate structure instead white cast iron and brick 4 storys tall !!!

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