After four previous iterations, Trinsic and Myhre Group submitted a finalized version to design review last month, a design that the city staff now recommends approval of with a few minor caveats. This proposal, previously discussed here and here, has been subjected to extra scrutiny because of its rather dull, risk-free design intention amongst a collection of expressive, risky projects. This seems counterintuitive in a city where most neighborhoods are currently fighting against eccentricities, but East Burnside is quickly becoming the showcase for Portland’s creative design firms with its mix of old city fabric and newer, unconventionally elaborate buildings. Early arrivals included the Doug Fir (Skylab), bSIDE6 (Works), Central Eastside Lofts (Vallaster Corl), and The Rocket (Guerrilla), but even grander projects are in the pipeline next door with Block 67 (Skylab), Block 75 (Works), Lower Burnside Lofts (Vallaster Corl), and The Dumbbell (Guerrilla) all on the horizon. The real trick here was to somehow integrate this econotecture project into the mix while still maintaining the developers bottom line.
Unlike the previous designs, the proposed arcade now covers the full length of the building’s Burnside frontage instead of being broken up, and the diagonal bracing at the balcony edges have also been diminished to a less prominent role. The exterior skin is to be adorned in a collection of contrasting bone white and charcoal flat metal panels, with dark bronze and terracotta box-ribbed metal panel accents. The overall form of the building has been consolidated into a single mass, made of two lobby-connected volumes, with a more unifying, repetitious window pattern along all sides. With these changes, Myhre Group looks to have created a nice fabric building, something more along the lines of the neighboring Central Eastside Lofts and less like something from Orenco Station.
A good deal of care has been shown regarding the design team’s exploration of the Burnside Street arcade. The height, depth, and materiality of the loggia is now more consistent with the older colonnades further up the street, and the storefronts boast window and door patterns similarly reminiscent of the existing environs. Unlike the nearby bSIDE6’s column-free frontage, the design team has purposely reintroduced the thick and heavy anchors into the sidewalk, making the extra-thick columns define the overall building’s geometry and dominating streetside presence. The ground floor retail spaces along Burnside will also feature large glass garage doors that will open up their interiors to the semi-enclosed sidewalk exterior, intentionally designed to encourage the blurring of what is public and what is private.
With a mix of residential unit types and simple industrial detailing, this project will indeed compliment the existing and future neighborhood, even if it disappears under the shadows of its more architecturally daring neighbors. The Central Eastside is in transition, and the more housing that can be concentrated along the historically mixed-residential Burnside, Sandy, and Morrison corridors the less land will be needed from the remaining Industrial Sanctuary for it. The Central Eastside’s importance to remain as an employment center and small business incubator has been recognized by the city, but they also recognize the need for greater housing density and the demand for mixed-use neighborhoods. Hopefully a balance can be found here, where coffee roasters and woodworkers rub elbows with fashion designers and people walking their dogs. Only time will tell, but I doubt the Central Eastside will ever stop changing, adapting, evolving…