It appears that the new Park Avenue West will be quite different from its previous proposal as it will house offices over residential. This arrangement is not unheard of, but for Portland it’s a first. Previously, TMT Development‘s 2007 design was to hold high-end condos atop commercial and retail space, but now the building has flipped upside-down with apartments on the lower floors. The ground floor for this half-bock building will be quite busy as it has to squeeze in a good amount of retail, a separate lobby for both commercial and residential, an underground parking garage entrance, and a loading dock all within the intersection of two alley-like smaller park block streets and two light rail transit lines. The two-story retail will be a welcome addition to downtown, and the city will be happy that more apartments will be available in the core. Both retail and residences are seen as being key to a healthy central business district, not just offices.
The facade is very contemporary, not very courageous, kind of boring, clean details, but I believe it will look great on overcast days. Portland’s skyline is still looking for an identity, with so many of its most prominent buildings looking out of place (or any place), and I don’t think this building necessarily helps nor harms. The aluminum and glass is reminiscent of Pietro Belluschi’s Commonwealth Building, and the material and color palette is similar to its neighbor, the Fox Tower, everything in the South Waterfront, and anything else TVA has had their hands in. For the most part, Portland’s identity is at the ground, the pedestrian scale, and that’s probably where it will always be.
Take a look (click for larger image):