Weekly Roundup: Weatherly Building, The Redd, Residential Infill, and more

Weatherly Building
A new 12-story office building designed by Perkins+Will is proposed adjacent to the Weatherly Building, as part of a project that will also include the seismic retrofit of the 1927 landmark stucture.

A 12-story mixed-use office and retail building at 510 SE Morrison St, adjacent to the Weatherly Building, has been proposed by developer Unico. At an initial Design Advice meeting the Landmarks Commission “recommended changes to the building’s massing, materials and height“*, writes the Daily Journal of Commerce.

The Oregonian reported that Portland is drafting new historic preservation rules intended “to wrest back local control“.

The second phase of the The Redd will completely open on March 2, according to a story in the Business Tribune.

NBP Capital has acquired the former Sunshine Dairy site at 801 NE 21st Ave, writes the Portland Business Journal (subscription required). An Early Assistance application was submitted in January for a 7-story building with 300-350 residential units.

Neighborhood activists thought the Residential Infill Project would protect neighborhoods from McMansions, but “did not see the fourplexes on the horizon“, writes the Portland Tribune. The project, which will go in front of City Council this summer, is seeing the strongest opposition in neighborhoods that “tend to be more affluent and the least affected.”

*This article will be unlocked for the rest of this week. After this week it will only be viewable by DJC subscribers.

20 thoughts on “Weekly Roundup: Weatherly Building, The Redd, Residential Infill, and more

  1. I’m so glad that a tall building is being proposed for that site! I like the building fine. I feel that the modernism of the building complements its neighbor nicely, and this will provide better visual skyline balance between that side of the river and the skyline of the opposite river shore here in downtown Portland.

  2. Here we go again Portland politics and an official body of NIMBYS (the historic commission) being anal about a district that’s not even that all historic lol

    Here you have an area (Central Eastside) that’s open and prime for development but you can’t even go tall for whatever reason. Downtown ? Fine u can argue the residents of the west hills have their views blocked, but what the hell is wrong going tall in this area ?

    Amazing a city that’s anti sprawl instead tout close in density but give tall tower proposals headaches smh

  3. The Landmarks Commission seems to need everything to be “olde” (with a definite “e”). We are in the 21st century, hello, and design shouldn’t hark back to days of yore but they should have a degree of design compatibility with older, adjacent structures in an “historic district,” though this district is of dubious integrity. A glass curtain wall is perhaps not the right solution but let’s please get with the century!

  4. Thank God the HLC exists to save us from turd boxes like this. What the fuck were they thinking? And screaming NIMBY! is so tired. It’s time to come up with a new empty cliche to shut down arguments. Preventing developers from becoming filthy rich through garbage construction is noble.

    • Why does every generic midrise in this town have to be some groundbreaking architectural masterpiece to you people? The vast majority of buildings in the most beautiful cities in the world look rather plain and samey, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Gorgeous Italian cities are loaded with boring stucco boxes. Paris consists of buildings that are basically clones of each other. Manhattan is just a bunch of identical brick tenements.

  5. Oh wow a glass box with staggered windows, havent seen that before. These overrated corporate “design” firms all design the exact same glass office buildings yet somehow get showered with praise for being “innovative.” What a joke the architecture profession has become.

  6. So far as I can see, we don’t even know yet what specific objections the Landmarks Commission has to these plans nor do we know more specifically what the plans are. For the most part, I find that Portland buildings are improved when they’re critiqued before hand and their design decisions must be defended.

  7. There is a time and place for things. How can they be okay with tearing down actual historic structures downtown while at the same time not allowing this in an area that has little if any actual historic structures.

    Do they want one actual historic building and 20 fake historic buildings? Or maybe the developer can scrap this plan and go with a 6 story box like every other new construction in the “historic” district.

  8. i too am tired of glass boxes. they could have tajen design cues from the Weatherly so that a synergy could be perceived. Architecture today has no soul.

  9. “neither of the proposals … defer to the Weatherly Building”, who cares?! I’m all for historic preservation and contextualism, but this existing tower is one of the ugliest buildings in Portland. There are lots of beautiful old buildings in Portland that should be deferred to, but this grey out of place lead thumb is not one of them.

  10. ” Here you have an area (Central Eastside) that’s open and prime for development but you can’t even go tall for whatever reason. Downtown ? Fine u can argue the residents of the west hills have their views blocked, but what the hell is wrong going tall in this area ?”

    I think any argument of people having their views blocked is a poor one for height limitations, especially downtown. If that is the real motivation for the dearth of tall buildings in this city, this is simply having city policy affected for the benefit of a very privileged few. However, if it’s a matter of character, than it’s acceptable. I’m just saying not building something because some private landowner’s view will be blocked is a poor reason to block anything. Views are not enshrined in perpetuity.

    In this case, I have no problem with the height, but the massing seems a bit off. I hope something does get built on the site, anything is better than what is there now! And let’s not use the argument of a rather nebulous historic district to deter a tall tower on the location.

  11. Besides the blocking-sights and historical context arguments, I think there are other compelling arguments against building tall in most parts of our city. In general, lower-scale buildings are more humane, livable, and respectful of our natural environment. There are already four neighborhoods where buildings can go tall: Downtown, the Pearl, South Waterfront, and the Lloyd District. What is the value of going tall in other parts of Portland? How is the life of our city enhanced by allowing tall structures elsewhere?

  12. Yes, there are many valid potential reasons to object to taller buildings (even Downtown), the loss of private landowners’ view not being one of them. I don’t think I made that clear in my earlier post, so I apologize.

    I do tend to agree lower-scale buildings are more livable, humane, and generally don’t feel as unnatural and impersonal as taller ones.

    There are advantages to taller buildings however: they improve density, leading to a more vibrant streetscape. They generally promote the density that justifies mass transit, and ultimately avoid allowing the metro area to sprawl, leaving a lot of land wild and untouched for natural recreation.

    My point I guess is this: it’s not a black and white argument about height. Some areas have thrived embracing it (NYC/Toronto) and others have done the opposite (Washington D.C.) and the reality is both have their merits, and I think Portland’s future lay in taking a hybrid approach.

    While, I don’t think 12 stories is very tall for the Central Eastside, but I am not really impressed with this design.

  13. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Shimran. While it does seem that building tall should reduce sprawl (something that most readers of this site are on board with, I suspect), I’m not sure that’s always the case. In general, tall buildings are more expensive and thus tend to be used for offices, hotels, and higher-end condominiums. New York is a case in point. Most of high-rise Wall Street drains away after working hours since most of the spaces are offices, high-rise Midtown stays awake longer, but more for the tourist than because people other than the rich can live there. Most of NYC lives north of 60th in Manhattan, where low-rises thrive, or in the outer boroughs which profiles are mostly lower-rise.

    I think a key question is this: for whom do we build? In New York – a metropolis I love to visit – the answer has too often been: for the wealthy, for the cultural elite, for jet-setters, and for tourists. The city exhilarates me, but it’s also a place of shocking poverty and despair. And I do not see how rampant skyscrapering has improved Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or Vancouver B.C. for most of its populace.

    I am not making a case against all tall buildings anywhere, but against the cult of skyscrapers. I am making the case for a democratically built city, focused on the needs of its diverse citizenry, willing to think independently about what a good city is and unwilling to uncritically accept the assumption that a great city must have a heroically towering skyline.

    • Hi David,

      Thank you for your response! It is fantastic discussing this topic with someone as clearly erudite as you are. I wanted to address some of your pints.

      “I think a key question is this: for whom do we build?”

      You are 100% correct here and I am glad you are aware of the right questions we need to be asking as we grow. If we have a vision for this city, let us show it and be deliberate in our attempts to achieve it.

      I also don’t necessarily believe in building skyscrapers for the sake of masquerading as a city of any degree of relevance (I look to Dubai as an egregious example of this). It does bring up a good question: What is a “great city”? Mexico City, at 18 million people, or São Paulo at near that both complete with skyscrapers, are unmanageable urban sprawls; they are not “great cities.” On the other hand, Paris — whose central districts have never exceeded three million inhabitants — is one of the most famed cities in the world and the capital of culture in the 19th century. Clearly for a city to enjoy primacy or livability are not function of population or density.

      If there is a case for a certain degree of verticality in Portland, I would say that is because we have certain neighborhoods that are defined by it already. And this is not a bad thing; rather it allows for a some aspects of inclusivity that you mentioned insofar as allowing for a larger variety of lifestyle choices, i.e., that there is a Portland for everyone’s lifestyle–from fancy condo living to having a small plot of land with a garden and neighborhood feel, from a happening neighborhood near amenities, to quiet ones away from them, and ones with distinct architecture, etc.. I’m not saying the city should be full of skyscrapers or high buildings (the world over I can find cities of such high-rise monotony), but merely that a precedent exists in certain neighborhoods here in Portlandand we should be wary of being a dull, one-note city.

      In this particular case, given the Weatherly building’s existence, I find that a 12 story building is not unprecedented for the neighborhood, although I probably would cap the height there. In this case it could give rise to a great interplay between the cities east and west sides; we have tall(er) buildings on the west side, and more-mid-rise ones in the inner eastside. It adds a layer of complexity, texture, and depth into our cityscape.

      • As far as some of your comments of NY goes: I unfortunately tend to agree.

        I tend to blame some of this on Michael Bloomberg. Despite the fact that I think he was the best mayor of NY, and was a true visionary (and that I would probably quit my job to join a presidential bid), I felt addressing income inequality and inclusivity were true failings.

        His administration will tell you they built more affordable units in his tenure than many others, but this was due to a trickle-down theory of housing rather than purposely engaging communities; any effects of alleviating income inequality were more backwash of city building than anything. His rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront is a great example of this: it was a windfall for developers, but did absolutely nothing for long term residents or any expectations of inclusivity. Additionally his administration never even bothered securing all the land for Bushwick Inlet Park, the main compromise for the rezoning of the neighborhood.

        He did such an amazing job of modernizing the city bureaucracy, making government more efficient, implementing bike lanes and pedestrian plazas, building world class parks, and greening the city, and other assorted infrastructure. I will forever express my admiration. However the major beneficiaries of a lot of this were the super wealthy and tourists as you have cited.

      • Shimran,

        What a rewarding discussion this has been for me, too. Actually, I agree with everything you last wrote. Twelve stories does not seem particularly tall for that area of Grand Avenue, and hardly qualifies as a skyscraper, as I would define one. My beaf is with the unreflective, near worship of tall buildings that I sometimes detect in the comments on this site. Clearly, yours are not among them.

  14. Everyone take note of how Shimran George and David Benson are debating this topic, Grade-A comment section etiquette right here.

  15. Laughable. We really can’t build what our predecessors did can we? The Oriental Theatre that stood on this site rips these modern architects a new one when it comes to craft, aesthetics, and ‘wow’ factor. It didn’t have to compete with the tower because it provided a playground for the eye at a human scale. These towers are made in vain now. Put all the money you’d use in the prolific amount of glazing and put it towards an actual style that compliments the context. These glass boxes are present in every city in the world and a corporation thinks it’s innovative to build another just like it? I hope the landmarks commission never passes anything these people propose if it can’t meet the at least a quarter of the standard of quality we had before. These “designers” are a joke.

  16. Thank you Shimran and David for this conversation thread. I particularly like the comment about different parts of town offering different lifestyle choices, and focusing on those differences as our city grows. Not everything should be a skyscraper, or a 5 over 1, or a single family house, but they all have their place in our city.

    As for this specific proposal, I think the Weatherly Building’s been standing tall all alone for 90 years. At this point in his life he doesn’t need a 3/4 size clone, he needs a good friend that can relate. This height is fine; this design is not. I’m fine with glass and CLT, but I don’t see any dialog between the proposed building and any of the current or historic context.

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