It looks like the developers of one of the most prominent redevelopments on the Eastside took notice of the design boom happening around them. Trinsic had originally proposed a rather run-of-the-mill half-block project at this site, a site surrounded by several built and forthcoming architectural gems from Skylab, Works, and Cavenaugh/Brett Schulz. The acquisition of an additional quarter block from Central City Concern sent Myhre Group back to the drawing boards, this time with an all new agenda: one that will play with, and capitalize on, the changes being made to the once-gritty neighborhood.
While maintaining the cost effectiveness of the five-wood-over-one-concrete floor structure, Myhre has now embraced a simpler, stronger set of distinctive forms bundled with contrasting materiality and color. The most exciting addition is the use of the unique and historic Burnside arcade laws utilized previously by Works Partnership and Kevin Cavenaugh for the bSIDE6 and Rocket buildings respectively. The age-old laws were introduced back in 1931 when the street was widened to make room for the booming automobile traffic at the time. Instead of razing the existing buildings entirely, the city cut their sidewalks into the buildings’ ground floors leaving the outermost columns adjacent to the roadbed to support the upper floors. Properties along this stretch (from the river to Sandy Boulevard) still maintain the right to build out to the roadway if they desire to. The new design brings two of its three forms forward over the sidewalk with an industrial-reminiscent cross-bracing system of balconies and a modern white and grey metal panel facade (image above and below).
The third organized form is set back from the other two with a rougher weathering steel face that plays games with the cleanliness of the black and white metal panel motifs that encompass the rest of the building. Unlike the previous design, the ground floor will now be almost entirely retail, minus the lobby and a few programmatic elements for Central City Concern on the north side. The new proposal also includes secure bike parking and live/work spaces facing Grand Avenue. The improved sight lines and street presence appear to emphasize the city’s recent infrastructure upgrades, with a pedestrian axis along Burnside and storefronts facing the Streetcar tracks. This redesign is a huge step in the right direction. Instead of a wearisome fabric building, we are now seeing what looks to be an honest attempt at a unique site-specific building.