There is a new project taking shape across the Willamette River from downtown Portland, a new project for Portland Fire & Rescue. A brand new Station 21 is under construction on the footprint of the old one. The new station, designed by Whelton Architecture, will be two buildings in one: a single-story garage for firefighting and emergency operations, and a two-story office for the firemen with an additional community meeting room. A new boathouse is also being built with the project that will eventually house two of Portland’s emergency watercraft. The station is looking to be LEED Gold certified, and is designed to coexist more harmoniously with the adjacent Eastbank Esplanade than before. The site is small, crammed between the river, the Esplanade, and the I-5 freeway, and stands on earthquake prone liquify-able soil. Currently, a great deal of pile work is being done to stabilize the earth before construction can truly begin.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the design is the public art. As with any civic construction in Portland, public art must be included, and the design team decided to ignore the already art-heavy Esplanade side, and create a large art screen facing the water and downtown on the opposite side. The art screen will not only be a visually striking addition to the waterfront, but its West-facing facade will also act as a sun shade for those intense summer afternoons.