Taylor Building


Location
Portland, OR

Size
20,000 SF
Urban Warehouse Grit
The Central Eastside Industrial area of Portland has many old warehouses that are transitioning from their warehousing use as the inner city has grown away from wholesale distribution facilities. Many of the buildings are old brick and timber structures, desirable rich materials that are too expensive to build with today.
This is a plan drawing showing the location of the Taylor Building in the industrial southeast
This is the northeast corner of the exterior of the renovated Taylor Building.

This is an aerial view of the Taylor Building with the downtown Portland skyline in the background.

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.

This is a drawing showing the insulation upgrades to the Taylor Building.
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This is a drawing of the east elevation of the Taylor Building before renovations.
Before
This is a drawing of the east elevation of the Taylor Building after renovations.
After
Pedestrians are invited into the new front entry at the Taylor Building.
The exterior of the Taylor Building features new custom steel canopies.
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This is a drawing of the north elevation of the Taylor Building before renovations.
Before
This is a drawing of the north elevation of the Taylor Building after renovations.
After

These old buildings are known to structural engineers as URM’s : “Un-Reinforced Masonry” buildings.

This is a view of the new lobby at the Taylor Building with the new stair leading to the upper level.

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.

Custom steel details were designed for the stair hand and guardrails at the Taylor Building.
This is a T-shaped plate holding the framing together at the Taylor 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.

These are new stairs leading to the basement level of the Taylor Building.
This is a L-shaped plate holding the old timber framing together at the Taylor Building.
This is an existing concrete bracket with old timber supporting the roof of the Taylor Building.
This is new steel seismic framing surrounding the old brick columns and windows at the Taylor Building.
This is the new interior stair in the lobby of the Taylor Building.

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.

Reclaimed refinished historic fir beams Taylor Building Christie Architecture
Sandblasted fir timber framing columns and beams Taylor Building Christie Architecture
Sandblasted fir timber framing columns and beams Taylor Building Christie Architecture
This is the east elevation of the Taylor Building with the downtown Portland skyline in the background.