From workplaces to libraries to the humanities, 2021’s prime works of structure assist us get on with our lives
You already know it is a unusual yr when the most effective and most formidable structure goes largely unoccupied. However in 2021, once we anticipated life to return to regular and solely partially obtained there — children again in class, however many mother and father nonetheless working remotely — spectacular works just like the Meyer Memorial Belief headquarters and the Adidas North America workplaces have remained vessels awaiting passengers.
Each initiatives, one for a neighborhood nonprofit and the opposite the German athletic-apparel big, have been designed by Lever Structure, which has come to rival Allied Works as the town’s premiere agency. Each initiatives characteristic ample use of mass timber, and are filled with pure gentle. And each are awaiting the return of workplace employees.
Even so, these are inspiring areas that may encourage staff members to return collectively in individual once more when the timing is true. Through the pandemic, polls confirmed most workplace employees did not wish to return to the bodily office 5 days per week; however additionally they did not wish to maintain working solely at residence. The way forward for the American workplace is ready to be remade as collaborative, dynamic house, which each these initiatives exemplify.
Even so, considered one of my favourite workplaces seen this yr was the humblest — the headquarters of structure agency Beebe Skidmore, reworking a tiny concrete-block single-room industrial constructing in St. Johns into slightly fortress of solitude, framing views of the neighborhood’s namesake bridge.
Allied Works sang a duet of types. The agency’s 500 N.W. twenty third Ave. constructing was accomplished this yr on the location of the historic Alfred Burkhardt Home, which had been destroyed by a fuel explosion in 2016. The brand new construction’s ceramic-tile facade is a nod to Ann Sacks, whose eponymous tile firm had its first showroom within the Burkhardt, and who lives subsequent door in one other Allied Works-designed constructing, 2281 Glisan (accomplished in 2000 and one of many agency’s early gems), which itself needed to be rebuilt after the identical explosion.
A few of this yr’s finest designs got here not from Portland, however cities to the south. Corvallis welcomed the Benton County Museum by Allied Works (which took prime honors at this yr’s AIA Oregon Structure Awards), in addition to the Oregon Forest Science Complicated at Oregon State College, a mass-timber construction designed by Vancouver, British Columbia’s Michael Inexperienced Structure.
In Eugene on the College of Oregon, shoe-company benefaction helped underwrite the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Affect by New York’s Ennead Architects in addition to a gleaming new Hayward Discipline by Portland’s SRG Partnership, the latter of which hosted the Olympic Trials final yr and can welcome the World Athletic Championships subsequent yr.
Whereas Portland theaters and arenas proceed to wrestle, Beaverton is about to get its personal arts venue: the Patricia Reser Heart for the Arts, designed by Opsis Structure. Its grand opening continues to be to return in spring 2022, however once I visited earlier this yr, as development wrapped up, it was already clear the theater and exhibit house goes to be transformative for this more and more numerous, high-density suburb.
The Reser Heart additionally engages in sensible place-making by enlarging what had been a forgotten pondlike opening within the largely buried Beaverton Creek — an ideal pure setting for this glass-walled arts heart to miss. It is sufficient to make one surprise why metropolis leaders do not take into account unburying extra of this creek and utilizing nature to foster a better sense of place than strip malls.
Talking of Beaverton, probably the most spectacular buildings of the yr within the Portland metro space appears to be the LeBron James Innovation Heart on the Nike World Campus. However I can not say for positive. Designed by Seattle agency Olson Kundig, with a slanted working observe going up one aspect of the constructing and sawtooth skylights punctuating its rectilinear type of black metallic and glass, the constructing seems to be attractive from outdoors. But the corporate has restricted nearly all media from visiting.
One other suburb, Milwaukie, has a beautiful new public library downtown. Designed by Hacker, the agency behind most the entire area’s finest libraries of the previous 20 years, Ledding Library, just like the Reser Heart, makes essentially the most of its creek-side web site, giving guests an idyllic place to return collectively (well being protocols allowing). The design begins with its uncovered wooden ceiling beams and wide-open volumes, however Hacker additionally will get the inside particulars proper, like LED lighting constructed into the bookshelves.
Through the pandemic, all of us doubled down on home life, and it is no shock that at this fall’s AIA Oregon Structure Awards, one of many winners was the Heartwood Residence by William Kaven Structure. The indoor-outdoor dwelling created by this residence’s central courtyard and its surrounding glass partitions actually make this one of many agency’s finest.
But for all these new buildings, considered one of my favourite architectural experiences this yr was touring the J.Ok. Gill Constructing downtown, after a renovation by SERA Architects. Possibly it takes extra creativity to design a brand new constructing, however standing within the renovated J.Ok. Gill’s large foyer, a double-height house with columns as massive as sequoias and the place the J.Ok. Gill retailer as soon as attracted hundreds every day, I used to be reminded of the soulfulness of structure that has lasted for generations. This was one other powerful yr for downtown, however I can not wait to return.
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