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Old Posted Feb 2, 2016, 2:59 PM
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Wood cut out of plans at Block 75

By: Beverly Corbell in Scrolling Box February 1, 2016 10:40 am

Block 75 North (Works Partnership Architecture)
Block 75 North (Works Partnership Architecture)

Another high-rise planned at the Burnside bridgehead may be headed for approval, but it won’t feature cross-laminated timber (CLT) as proposed originally.

The Portland Design Commission on Thursday heard a staff report and discussed details of the proposed 19-story, mixed-use building at 111 N.W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The building is being designed by Works Partnership Architecture for Beam Development and will complete development of Block 75 near the Burnside Bridge’s east end. Urban Development Partners is co-developer of the project.

Use of wood in construction was barely mentioned during the meeting to provide design advice. A post-tensioned concrete frame is now planned, with steel and glass cladding.

In October 2015, Beam Development principal Brad Malsin said he would like to use CLT for the building, but would have to evaluate costs first. Also, Portland city building codes would have to be changed. An 18-story building in the works in Vancouver, British Columbia, would become the tallest constructed with CLT.

This new project near the intersection of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Couch Street represents the second and final phase of development at Lot 75, where a 10-story concrete-and-steel building, also designed by Works Partnership, is under construction. Discussion at Thursday’s meeting centered on the state-of-the-art mechanical parking garage and more mundane issues like quantities of curb cuts, loading stalls and sidewalk canopies.

Plans call for a basement service level, street-level retail space, a second-floor commercial area, four levels of mechanized parking and 13 levels of residential units. The mechanized parking will allow two layers of cars per level, city planner Tim Heron said.

“Cars are not 10 feet tall; they’re five feet tall, so you can do two layers of cars on one level,” he said. “You would drive into the elevator, get out of the car and take your keys with you and robots take it up and park it.”

Carrie Strickland, a principal at Works Partnership, said plans call for 80 to 100 mechanized parking stalls.

“We are striving to get at least a one-to-one parking count in the building,” she said.

Strickland said that only a mechanized parking structure being built in Philadelphia will be similar to the one planned at Block 75.

Works Partnership principal William Neburka added that views from outside of the parking garage can be an asset.

“With glazing and simple graphic scheme we can see how that parking can call attention to itself as an active element,” he said.

Neburka went on to tell commissioners that the clear glass curtain will actually be a window wall and be used with metal panels.

“We probably should have a conversation on how we begin to integrate some more opaque or textured materials (and) allow some parking glass and glass as transparent as possible at the base of the building,” he said.

Strickland then asked if glass in the auto lobby could count toward the required glazing percentage, but Commissioner Tad Savinar said no. Later in the meeting he said that a different glass treatment might have more appeal.

“If you have a light frost on the windows you could see moving forms instead of moving cars,” he said. “And that could be a lot more interesting from across the river, from a distance, to actually have the building breathing and moving instead of focusing on the mechanical action of moving a car.”

Although Strickland and Williams pointed to planned overhangs as protection for pedestrians, Commissioner Julie Livingston said that canopies would be needed.

“You do need to address canopies because the overhangs aren’t close enough to the street to provide good protection,” she said.

Commissioners late in the meeting focused on including sidewalk canopies in the design and deciding the number of curb cuts that will be needed for loading and vehicle access. The current proposal includes two curb cuts on Northeast Davis Street – one for loading and one for the mechanical parking elevator.

“It’s possible they may need a third loading stall,” Heron said after the meeting. “My crystal ball is telling me they’re going to need another loading stall.”
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