Phaidon (a favorite publisher of ours) is releasing a new book, Ruin and Redemption in Architecture, that:
captures the awe-inspiring drama of abandoned, forgotten, and ruined spaces, as well as the extraordinary designs that can bring them back to life – demonstrating that reimagined, repurposed, and abandoned architecture has the beauty and power to change lives, communities, and cities the world over.
It’s written by Dan Barasch, Co-Founder of the Lowline, who really articulates how and why this blog exists with these thoughts:
There are plenty of projects that use “adaptive reuse” in really cynical ways, basically to sell condos. Yet there are dozens of examples of adaptive reuse as a tool for developing resilient public spaces or advancing social missions.
Sure, that old church or industrial space gets preserved but now they’re a high-end condo that you’ll never step foot in.
Here’s the setup: A beloved bookstore on Division in Portland in a unique corner building closed its doors last year. The owner of the shop had passed away and its future was in doubt. The son, who co-managed the shop put the building up for sale.
That story usually ends up like this: the building is sold, developer demolishes, builds soulless box. The end.
In this case though, the son had a buyer in mind. And that buyer was a book/comic book store Books With Pictures. The owner lives nearby so she’s vested in the neighborhood. She plans on moving her family to the space (it has residential on top—imagine that), leasing out the basement to another business—a record store even— and launching a food cart pod in the parking lot. Kudos to all involved.
Portland’s North End
If you’re not reading Street Roots, buy a copy from any of its vendors around town. Not only do they report on homeless (and other) issues they do a great job doing it. Proof: this piece on the history of Old Town and how it’s transformed through the years. It’s written by Doug Kenck-Crispin, co-producer of the podcast Kick Ass Oregon History so you know it’s solid.
Widmer pub closes
Some of us were surprised, others not so much: Widmer has shut its N. Russell pub. In 2017, they stopped serving food at the same location. The venerable brewer will still produce beers, you just can’t go to its pub to drink them.
Mayo house saved
What a great story: Local artist saves historic home, will move it to where the family’s long-lost apartment once stood and will renovate it —and open it to the public “where historians, artists and members of the black community can preserve and create culture.”
Widmer before it was Widmer.
It started with breakfast in Turner, Oregon.
Chad Casady recalls having breakfast with his wife, Melissa, and neighbors, throwing ideas back and forth, and the abandoned church around the corner came up in conversation. One of the ideas: turn the church into a taphouse.
So, after breakfast that day, the Casadys and neighbors walked over to the church and found the front door wide opened. “We helped ourselves, took a tour of the place, and it was a disaster,” says Casady. “The inside was not well kept, the whole thing needed to be gutted, the foundation looked pretty bad. Posts and beams were rotten. It looked like it needed some TLC.”
Built in 1891, the 127-year-old church, near Salem, was obviously neglected and that’s when most people would’ve walked away. In fact, it’s seen numerous tenants during the previous decades, with the last tenant living in the basement.
Casady, though, started the reconstruction process. At the beginning of 2015, he started research on the building, then researched construction costs associated with renovating it. He brought in an inspector, a foundation expert to take a look at the foundation and structure, and then a general contractor to map out what it was going to take. Then it was off to the City of Turner.
The City was exceptionally helpful, says Casady, but a maybe bit cynical at first. “When I came in, the city administrator said, “You know how many people have come in, just like you with some grand dream for this building?’ and I said, ‘I'm not in the business of dreaming, I'm business execution here, so if you want to help out, I'm interested in figuring out what it takes to get from step A to step B,’” says Casady.
From there, he continues to work with the city and county numerous times before putting in an offer. And then, even more research.
Demographics, speaking with local business owners about the market, the future of the city, and where they think the city is going. In fact, Turner is starting to see some changes, like a new community-based café that’s been successful. “It’s proving that the community is ready for something cooler than a mill,” says Casady.
So, how does someone like Casady, who has a background in tech (he’s VP of IT at Performance Health Technology in Salem) and no construction experience retrofit a hundred-plus-year-old building?
“I really didn't understand how a lot of the systems worked, you know as far as like putting contracts together, getting approvals and stuff. I've never done a construction project. I was involved in building my own house, but not like this,” he says.
The key to success he believes is having a strong partner (Casady credits his wife Melissa as his true partner), hiring the right contractor, and if you can swing it, someone you know and trust. An old acquaintance, Ryan Records, of Records Construction has been his partner throughout the retrofit, as well as a team of solid subs to help guide the project.
The end game, of course, is to have a community gathering place, serve some local beers (they’re installing a 32-tap system with local beers from Salem including Gilgamesh, Salem Ale Works, Vagabond, and Santiam) as well as other Oregon and west coast beers.
But it’s also a bit more. Casady wanted a taproom, called Angel's Share Barrel House (“Angel’s share” is the portion of alcohol that’s lost to evaporation with aged spirits—”if you want tasty booze, you’ve got to pay the Angels their share,” Casady says), and a place to hang out, but also help build a stronger community. With his own money funding the retrofit he believes the taproom will be more than a beer place.
“To bring something back that has been sitting there for decades, and people have just complained about this building and no one was doing anything about it. This is such an important piece of history for the community and we need to do something with it,” he adds.
You might have already seen this event being promoted but just in case.
Portland Design Events is presenting Martha Schwartz of Martha Schwartz Partners (MSP)—a leading international design practice whose work focuses on activating and regenerating urban sites and city centers—with a two-part presentation on 9/13.
The first part will be about the work of Martha Schwartz Partners that spans from the very early installation works to the most recent work being done by the practice. The work will show an evolution of scale and approach to design.
The second part of the presentation will be sharing Schwartz's concerns about climate change and the conflicts this knowledge has brought which has resulted in the re-evaluation of her own priorities as a professional. Here's her take:
I'm in a transition now as I am beginning to learn more about climate change and how we, as a practice, might fundamentally change our approach to design. As a teacher, my goals have shifted to teaching students how we, as landscape architects, can respond meaningfully to climate change.
I'm not a designer or an architect but this sounds interesting for everyone that cares about how our cities and spaces are going to be designed. Go here to sign up!
James Cook, director of retail research in the Americas for JLL, has an interesting podcast called Where We Buy, “a show about the things we buy and the places we buy them.”
In his most recent episode he explores Portland’s West End with Jonathan Ledesma, a partner with developer Project^. They talk about the challenges, opportunities and the transformation of the West End through adaptive reuse.
The two projects highlighted include Blackbox, a retail and creative space in a historic brick building, and Union Way, the shopping alley that connects two streets through two former night clubs. I'm probably not the target shopping audience for Union Way but I still love its aesthetics, the vibe, the design (those flush-mounted floor lights...), and the fact that it magically empties out to Powell's (how convenient). It's the perfect example of a building being reborn as a fun and useful space.
Grab a beverage and give the episodes a listen.
First up will be a new riverwalk, with plans designed by Snøhetta. Then it's anyone's guess what will happen next, from mixed use something-something, condos, shopping. It's going to change the McLoughlin corridor, from Milwaukie to Oregon City. If you've ever driven on McLoughlin and seen the car lots, strip joints, this is a good thing.
And, just last week it was announced there's yet another new plan: Possibly reopening the decommissioned Willamette Falls Locks. The Willamette Falls Locks Commission (appointed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown) is working to advise state, local and regional stakeholders on the "development and implementation of policies relating to the repair, reopening, operation and maintenance of the Willamette Falls navigation canal and Locks."
The Locks are currently owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who shuttered the Locks in 2011. But, according to a Local Economic Potential Study conducted by ECONorthwest, Oregon could see tremendous economic benefits from recommissioning the Locks. The study found that over the next 30 years:
- Transportation benefits of $12-$49 million
- Recreation benefits of $12-$50 million
- 80,000-220,000 truck trips removed from Portland area roads
Reopening the Locks and returning navigational access around Willamette Falls holds tremendous historical and cultural value to Oregonians, and to the state’s Native American tribes.
Plus? It'd be cool to travel past the Falls and beyond in the Willamette in a boat or on a kayak, right? Crossing our fingers on this one and we'll be writing much more on this amazing project.
The Orange Line Ale Trail
Ok, it's not really a thing but it could be, drinking beers without driving, from downtown Milwaukie to Tilikum Crossing. Here's a quick take on your beery adventure.
First (or last) stop: Beer Store Milwaukie. Revolving taps, OK food, bottles and cans.
Hop back on Max,then get off at the Clinton stop and head to Apex, BeerMongers then Los Gorditos. Depending on your state, you can get back on Max or walk to Tillikum Crossing to enjoy more beers at the recently opened Mt. Hood Brewery at Tilikum Station. If you're feeling adventurous, hoof it down Water Avenue for 20 minutes where you can hit up Hair of the Dog, Produce Row Cafe, and Wayfinder. (But that's a different post for a different kind of blog.)
Update: Looks like The Portland Mercury thinks the same thing.
New shuttle in Central Eastside
Not to keep talking about beer, but... if you want to keep your beerventure going (or need to get to work) you can always keep walking down Water Avenue to a handful of breweries and taprooms. Or? Take the just-launched Water Avenue Courtesy Shuttle, for free. It runs from 6:30am to 9:30am and 4pm-7pm. with stops including the Dairy Building parking lot, Oregon Rail Heritage Center parking lot, North OMSI parking lot, ODOT Block parking lot, Eastside Exchange parking lot and Oregon Convention Center. Prowling around Central Eastside yesterday, we saw it cruise by pretty frequently.
Mid-century church in Westmoreland a goner?
We always liked this mid-century church building but it might not be around for very much longer. Though the land is currently zoned R-1 and R-5, there’s a pending zone change of the entire site to R-1, a medium-density residential zone. Allowed uses include condominiums, apartments, duplexes, townhouses, and row homes. We’ll be watching what happens next.
Nature in the city
A quick note for NextDoor posters that post (which seems like every week) that they SPOTTED A COYOTE ON OUR STREET HOW DID IT GET HERE THIS IS A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD: those coyotes aren't going anywhere (and were probably there first). In fact, they might be trotting around your backyard even more while you sleep.
According to new research, human activity is forcing mammals to become more active during the night—because humans are disrupting them. Night noises just got more interesting.
We've got to admit it was touch and go with the Guild. It was in disrepair for years, then vacant. (Buildings that are vacant for long periods of time always us nervous.) It was originally built in 1927 as the Taylor Street Theatre until 1948 when it was renamed, renovated in 1956, then closed in 2006. But wait! It was renovated in 2016. Original plans called for it to be used as a theater, but that came to pass. Until this year, it sat vacant. And now, Willamette Week reports that it will get a new resident—Japan's Kinokuniya Books. Chalk that up as a win.
Milwaukie Cleaners closing
Dry cleaners closing their doors isn't exactly breaking news. However, this one piques our interest. One, it's a cool structure. Two, it's a hidden mid-century gem. Three, it would make a great spot for something other than a dry cleaner? Restaurant? Beer-something? Coffee shop? Market? The Architecture Heritage Center did a walking tour of downtown Milwaukie last year that (we think) that featured it. (They're doing another one in the fall.)
Beers Made by Walking and a new pedestrian bridge in Forest Park
If you've never done the Beers Made by Walking hike, do it. Last weekend, we had the chance to wander around with Forest Park folks and brewers from Hopworks and Reverend Nat's Hard Cider. The two-hour walk provided a chance to see a new Metro trail under construction, a 500-year-old cedar, and a forest —mere miles from downtown Portland.
Closer to town on Burnside in Forest Park it was recently announced the Burnside Wildwood Trail crossing has enough funds to be built. After support from myriad of sources, including Portland Parks & Recreation, Metro, major family and public foundations, private donations, and crowdsourcing, construction is predicted to start in late summer.