fire and water II

The nearly complete Fire Station 21 on the East bank of the Willamette River

It has been almost a year since construction started on Portland Fire & Rescue’s new Station 21 on the Eastbank Esplanade. Now, the project from Whelton Architecture is nearing completion, and the much anticipated ‘water ripple’ screen [by artist David Franklin, in collaboration with architects Aaron Whelton and David P. Suttle] has been finally hung, and the end result is quite amazing.

The new west-facing screen changes depending on one’s vantage point

The undulating form of the vertical louvers creates the water-like optical illusion

Originally intended to act as a solar screen to reduce afternoon heat gain in addition to being an artistic expression, the rippling form was broken at the windows to allow the station’s staff to have unimpeded views in case of emergency. Regardless, the piece is still quite effective as a rain screen and as a visual landmark for the new station.

Fire Station 21 will have one of the best views of downtown from the Eastside

Fire Station 21 is being built by Skanska USA and is on target for its LEED Gold certification

Once completed, the new station will house emergency vehicles for both land and water, staff accommodations, and a small community room. The accompanying boathouse was built separately, and has been in operation since early this year.

View of the new station from the Hawthorne Bridge

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4 responses to “fire and water II

  1. “The Rippling Wall” by artist David Franklin was designed for Fire Station 21 and funded by the City of Portland’s Percent for Art, administered by the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

    Peggy Kendellen, Public Art Manager

  2. “Acts as a rain screen”. A screen that looks like water, but doesn’t really stop any rain. Perhaps it slows it down.

  3. Fire Station 21 is a classic example of our public officials not practicing a “do no harm” approach to our built and natural environment. The boat house makes home depot garden sheds look well designed. The river is one our most important public spaces; placing the boat house in its present location is akin to putting a bus garage in the middle of Washington Park. “The Rippling Wall” however well executed cannot mitigate this unwelcome tin shack at the foot of the iconic Hawthorne Bridge. The adjacent dock was one of the few places where citizens could meet the water in the central city; now we are greeted with razor wire. Moreover, the fire station building has permanently created a bottle neck with the freeway footings on the East side Esplanade. As our population grows we will need larger public rights of way not constricted paths. Surely we could have found a better location for this facility. Or perhaps Mr. Leonard;s desire to be honored next to Vera Katz’s bronze was simply to great.

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