With a collective commitment to enhance the city of Portland through sustainable and responsible development, four significant Portland institutions join together here to share workplace resources. Complementing each other’s programs and collaborating to expand community impact under one roof allows each tenant to become greater than the sum of their parts.
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To house this diverse group of building occupants—the PSU Graduate School of Education, the OHSU|PSU School of Public Health, the PCC Dental Programs, and the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability—the Vanport Building is a seven-story, 175,000 GSF structure on a dense urban site in downtown Portland. Located at 4th Ave. and Montgomery St. and bound by public transit on all four sides, the project strategically presents outdoor spaces, landscape, and building form and expression to anticipate future potential development.
With multiple stakeholders involved, the project embraced a deeply integrative process that encouraged efficient decision-making. Working with key stakeholders, we developed a set of common values, or Guiding Principles, that formed the basis for all project decisions. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) tools and processes enhanced teamwork, delivered value, and inspired innovation.
The Vanport Building’s site is unique to the city of Portland, with the curved streetcar path clipping its northeast corner. In response, the building massing curves with the streetcar line, expressing the movement of the site and recessing the first floor to create a wide and protected pedestrian-friendly path. All sidewalks and access to the high-traffic building are generous and open, fostering public walkways on all transit frontages that are safe for those on foot.
In response to the adjacent historic apartment structure to the south, the building steps in scale at the fourth floor to thoughtfully transition to the nature and scale of these surroundings. Setting it back from the north side of the apartments creates an open and inviting courtyard between the two buildings that serves as a public amenity. To accommodate the significant grade change, a series of landscape walks, stairs, walls, benches and planters flank the courtyard space to define its boundaries, provide scale as a wayfinding reference, and offer multiple means of access.
The ground floor will be served with retail spaces and a lobby, where a welcoming central stair ushers the public up to the second floor to arrive at classrooms and shared resources for the three educational institutions. The PSU Graduate School of Education houses several classrooms and student programs on the 2nd floor, with the Dean and faculty located on the 4th floor. PCC’s dental programs, which includes clinical hygiene services for the underserved public, occupies the 3rd floor. The OHSU|PSU School of Public Health is located on the 5th and 6th floors, with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability on the top floor. All programs have a mission to serve the public and by being co-located, the new building provides opportunities for collaborative outreach.
The Vanport Building is designed to achieve a minimum of LEED Gold certification, with countless sustainable features. A green roof buffers rainwater and encourages biodiversity, while a large stormwater planter in the courtyard treats most water that falls on site. Solar panels on the roof offset energy costs; daylighting strategies include solar tubes and a narrow building form. A dedicated outside air system (DOAS) with radiant heating and cooling, as well as a robust building envelope, promote thermal comfort and efficiency for users.