In a world of hurry up and wait on building projects, one particular lagging building in my native Portland, Ore., has me wishing movement would happen.
Architecture firm Skylab joined with contractor York and Curtis, structural engineer Catena Engineering and Civil Engineer KPFF to create plans for the Weave building in downtown—a structure that would turn heads and create a different feel for the Pacific Northwest.
While the region where I have spent the vast majority of my life—from Portland to Vancouver, B.C.—takes pride in being a leader in sustainable practices, old-world or cutting-edge architecture isn’t exactly at the top of the area’s most notable attraction list (save for a handful of buildings, obviously). But with new structures getting planned, it has that potential.
That is why I wish the Weave building could get off the ground right up to its planned 10 stories and showcase the challenges of designing a structure for a 5,000-square-foot lot. But first it must deal with the challenges of reeling in tenants to secure financing.
I thought it was getting a little tired to write about financial issues holding up interesting projects—and ones that put engineers and contractors to work. But everywhere I turn these days I hear of crazy-cool jobs being put on hold from Portland to Seattle up into Vancouver, B.C. And while another glut of massive building booms just for the sake of growth leaves a lot to be desired (vacant buildings without much community or architectural charm don’t have much long-term benefit to an area), there remains a place for quality projects. The Weave downsized early on from 27 stories to 10 and morphed from luxury apartments into offices, most likely the impact of an economy determining the correct scale of the building.
As more daring architecture and sustainable practices start to mesh together, it provides engineers a chance to get creative and show off their stuff too. The Weave building—not a bad name for a building, in my opinion—does just that in 50,000 square feet with the prospect of LEED Platinum on the horizon.
The architects say that Weave reflects a Web of influences on an urban fabric. "In the same way a textile depends not solely on the form of the fibers but also on the structure of the weave, the design premise for the Weave building begins with the philosophy of community and how living, working and the built environment co-exist."
And while if what the architects say comes true still must play out—marketing speak always seems a bit over the top anyway—just getting the building started will help us get to that end. Reports are now coming out that the Portland Development Commission wants to help financially to get the project going.
If Portland wants a new idea to take a lead in, getting new architecture full of engineering creativity jumpstarted for the benefit of the community certainly fits the mold. Let’s see how it all looks.