Trains still rumble through the industrial neighborhood a block from the site. If your timing is unlucky, you can end up waiting for a 50-car freight train to go by. But that is part of the charm of being a neighbor in this industrial district.
The owners anticipated leasing the upgraded 1921 historic structure to a variety of small businesses with spaces ranging from 1,000 sf up to an entire floor at 10,000sf. While it would have been great to keep the old platform freight elevator with its horizontally split double door, we suggested a new lobby at the northeast corner where the sidewalk dropped to its lowest point. This allowed an accessible entry with an elevator for all the tenants while keeping the loading dock on the east side for walkup entries.
How do we preserve the historic exposed brick and timber vibe when the energy code requires we cover it up?
The charm of this building is its historic industrial materials. However, to satisfy the energy code, the building needs to be insulated; it had none at all. We couldn’t cover the exterior since this building is built out to the property line — and we didn’t want to reclad it anyway; we liked the brick.
We modeled the building for energy to assess how much wall area we could keep exposed, balancing the need to insulate with the desire to keep the industrial vibe. We decided the most impactful area to preserve the exposed brick was the main level and the northwest elevator/stair entry lobby. We could keep the ceiling as exposed deck by insulating on top of the roof.
These old buildings are known to structural engineers as URM’s : “Un-Reinforced Masonry” buildings.
Although Portland is in a high seismic area, we didn’t recognize the need to reinforce buildings appropriately until the 1990’s. And it became a requirement for owners in 2004 to seismically upgrade buildings as they were renovated.
In this building, we created steel frames on each exterior wall to brace the building without covering up the brick where it remained exposed to view. At the old timber beam and column intersections, brackets, plates and holddowns stitch the old framing together with modern reinforcements. Though seemingly perilous-looking, the timbers with these reinforcements do the job, extending the life of this already 100 year old building.
A cool detail we discovered about the old building was the blocks between the beams at the roof. Apparently these were placeholders for a future expansion of the building that could hold timber columns to support new upper floors.
Timbers removed in demo were stripped, refinished and repurposed to be stair treads in the new lobby. Old nail holes and the scars of 100 years of heavy duty performance just add to the industrial vibe of the renovation.