With excavation starting this month, the 9-story Pearl West office building looks to fill in one of the few remaining gaps in the Pearl District’s urban fabric. The half-block site located between NW 14th and 15th Avenues facing Irving Street, will add much needed office space to the primarily retail and residential area. The newest, and what looks to be final, version of the building has a few notable changes. The dark, almost black brick has been lightened to a more silvery-gray, and the column lines in the facade have returned to being more uniform. The northern party wall and setback will now consist of continuous metal paneling instead of brick, and the mechanical penthouse is to be incorporated into the same plane as the daylighting well. The Eastern 9th-floor terrace has been extended along the entire side, and the retail spaces have been pushed out to the street line, eliminating the previously proposed ground floor arcade.
The elimination of the street level loggia, which would have been almost entirely in shadow throughout most of the day, has increased the total amount of leasable retail space in the building. Three very different sized retail spaces will now compliment the smaller, mid-block lobby entrance. These new storefronts will extend the existing retail presence down NW Irving, and fill in the gap along the NW 14th corridor. A wider awning, mirroring the old loading dock cover at the The Avenue across the way, is now proposed only along Irving Street, instead of wrapping the corner along 14th Avenue, giving a greater hierarchical presence to the pedestrian street.
The pedestrian street will get a few upgrades to its Northern side, including contemporary street furniture and additional plantings, while maintaining the existing cobblestone layout built by The Avenue next door. The Western end of Irving will have larger plantings with denser foliage in order to block out some of the noise and unflattering views of the freeway across 15th, and the Eastern side will be more open and airy with clear sightlines to the entry points.
Overall, I like the presence the design team is proposing for the area. I prefer historic nods with modern details over direct mimicry any day, and the facade’s “lightening towards sky” treatment is a subtle, yet powerful delineation from what is old and what is new.