arcade games are better II

The latest rendition of the 419 Burnside project, view from Burnside and MLK looking NE (Myhre Group Architects)

After listening to the city’s design advice on three previous iterations, Trinsic and Myhre Group Architects have proposed a new version of their 419 East Burnside building. Unfortunately, the new design feels like a step backwards, back toward the mundane. The new version is streamlined, uses fewer materials in its facade, and allows for more light into the ground floor, but it also falls back into a more repetitious, low contrast form that fades into its surroundings. With the energetic B-Side-6 across the street, and the fantastic Burnside Bridgehead projects from Works, Skylab, and Guerrilla on the way, it seems like a shame to dull down this site.

Bird’s eye of the 419 building from the SE, note the forms of the three Burnside Bridgehead buildings ghosted behind it (Myhre Group Architects)

Instead of a broken plane, three-part form along Burnside, the design team has reduced it to a repeating two-part on a single plane divided by an inset entrance. The arcade now goes along the entire stretch instead of the previous stepped-back approach, and the metal panels are now three shades of grey (four if you count Portland’s grey sky window reflections) instead of the high-contrasting white and charcoal that appeared previously. The rooftop amenities are no longer expressed at the Southeast corner of the building, as they are now more condensed and set back from the edge.

Visualization of the Southeast corner of the current clean-line proposal, previous version below (Myhre Group Architects)

The third iteration had lattice woven panels and a strong box form (Myhre Group Architects)

Despite its flaws, the second design had a more dynamic facade, both in contrast and form (Myhre Group Architects)

The bumped out upper floors, the non-standard oriel forms with attached frames, that were previously proposed are now gone, and a new flatter and more repetitive facade graces the three street-facing sides of the building. The “basket weave” pattern of panels has also been replaced by a more rigid, uniform look, which is unfortunate as the lattice pattern could have been better utilized and embraced in changing planes rather than simply cast aside. The windows are now set back into the building instead of being on a single plane, which is a definite improvement, along with the choice of wood soffits.

The Grand Avenue and Couch Street facades have been streamlined to an almost monotonous point, view from the NE (Myhre Group Architects)

The ground floor has also improved quite a bit. The windows and openings have more continuity with the rest of the building, and the entrances are more clearly defined. The arcade as proposed is very clean and simple, and the column widths are more consistent with the upper facade treatments. In lieu of the oriel projections, the sidewalks are now protected with awnings, which cast less shadow at the street level.

The proposed arcade over the East Burnside sidewalk, view looking NE (Myhre Group Architects)

Rendered view looking down Couch Street toward downtown, ghost images of the Burnside Bridgehead projects can be seen in the distance (Myhre Group Architects)

Visualization of the 419 building from the Burnside Bridge facing East (Myhre Group Architects)

The city’s design advice sessions had good intent, but I fear that there is a discord between the design team’s responses and the guidance issued. Perhaps it is just my own personal taste (‘less is a bore’ vrs. ‘less is more’), but I preferred the previous iteration’s overall feel. I do like the attention the ground floor is getting, and the most recent facade is far better than the original one. I do hope that this project’s fate, being on such a prominent site, doesn’t lie in just being another ‘fabric building.’

Rendering of the proposed ‘back’ view from MLK and Couch facing SE (Myhre Group Architects)

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4 responses to “arcade games are better II

  1. Design review can do damage. They tend to try and force sterile onto projects. Have any kind of complexity or color and they hit you hard. Yet they miss garage door located in future pedestrian street or blank walls. Its strange. I feel they’ve changed the good planning aspect with their own design tastes.

  2. Wow, the second iteration was much better than this uniform box they ended up with. The Burnside façade is great, the rest of it…not so much. This is a human warehouse surrounded by busy streets; it’s an island – why rent an apartment at this place in a market with much better offerings? A smarter developer would have created something of architectural prominence and sophistication in order to coax renters to cross four lanes of heavy traffic on their way home. This, however, seems like it’s a money grab from an out-of-town developer who just wants to throw up something fast and cheap.

  3. Pingback: arcade games are better III | places over time·

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