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Old Oregonian press room set to reveal historical features



The redevelopment of The Oregonian’s old publishing building is verging on its June 30th completion date this month, with updated — and historical — features for its new creative office space.

Six floors of creative workspaces with high ceilings and a light-filled lobby will soon be a part of 1320 Broadway.

ALLIED WORKS - The renderings show plans for an updated, light-filled lobby with many access points at street level - and a cafe.

In 1947, the full-block building was originally designed as the headquarters and press room of The Oregonian newspaper downtown. Today, 1320 Broadway is being redeveloped into creative office space — the largest Class A space in Portland, at 290,000 square feet. Seattle-based Urban Renaissance Group is the developer, working alongside Portland-based firms Allied Works Architecture and Fortis Construction.

Urban Renaissance bought the property for $14.15 million in 2014 with Clarion Partners, a New York-based investment firm. The original building was designed by Pietro Belluschi, and opened in 1948.

Reinventing the Historical

Kyle Lommen, principal architect at Allied Works, said his team wanted to stay true to the Italian Belluschi design, which was lost in later 20th century renovations.

“Taking a step back, the larger approach we took to the project was really to bring back the original Belluschi design, which through many different renovations throughout the years — primarily a renovation that happened in the ‘70s — a lot of the spatial organization and character had been drastically changed,” Lommen said.

“The kind of spatial variation and organization of the Belluschi project, which was quite dynamic, was basically leveled out,” Lommen said. “So in that process a lot of connections to the street were removed or blocked up, so we opened that up on Broadway and added additional access points to retail on Jefferson.”

Bad 70s remodel

Lommen wasn’t impressed with the state of the building as it came into his hands.

“It was the most uninviting, nonpublic kind of experience,” Lommen said. “Previously, back in the ‘70s, the lobby itself was quite grand — like the one we are proposing — and until recently, the ceilings have been dropped to a single level, the lobby reduced to almost a single hallway.”

“But doing what we did, opening up and taking out the ceiling and construction, you really get a sense of what the original design was, and the character and quality of that space, which was just drastically diminished through the ’70s renovation,” Lommen said. “The space itself is quite beautiful.”

For this renovation, Lommen focused on clearing out the past renovations and sees it as more of a restoration.

“It’s largely not a renovation, it’s bringing it back to its original state, and then adding access points on all four sides and really developing the lobby as a grand public space,” Lommen said.

Luxurious Lobby

Lommen is also adding a tenant entry along Columbia, along with space for a cafe at street level.

“We tried to open the building up more on the ground level to have more public access and tenant access along the street,” Lommen said. “The nature of the space itself, the material expression of the concrete and insertion of this kind of wood and mirrored finish in the lobby is quite interesting.”

The teams from every firm put a lot of effort into the ground level lobby, including Thea von Geldern, Allied Works’ senior associate on the project.

ALLIED WORKS - Thea von Geldern, senior associate with Allied Works

“One thing we thought was important was opening up the lobby as public and civic space,” von Geldern said. “There’s going to be a cafe in there really inviting the neighborhood into the building, quite grand with height space, looking to support that character of the lobby to get the community into the building.”

According to von Geldern, Urban Renaissance had a strong vision of what it wanted to achieve in the space.

“They have just been amazing working with us, the lobby has a little more character than other spaces, from the mock-ups through the inevitable changes you have with an old building,” von Geldern said.

Once completed, Portland-based Ristretto Roasters, which currently has three other Rose City locations, will become the lobby’s new cafe.

Double Heights

Von Geldern said the historical aspects of the building gave designers unique opportunities they couldn’t have built from scratch in Portland today.

The fourth story, the level of the newly added mezzanine, has double-height spaces across the floor.

“To have double-height workspace in the city, you can’t afford to do that in a new build,” von Geldern said.

It was originally built that way because of the historical use of the building: the printing press.

“The press was removed many years ago, and at one point the basement level was converted to office space and a double height component was added to create more office space,” Lommen said. “We’re taking advantage of opportunities, because it had the old printing press, it still has tracks where it moved the printing press around, a volume you would never get to create for office space, but incredible space to work in.”

JULES ROGERS - Fortis Construction crews work on the new street-level entries.

New subgrade parking

The subgrade levels, which had been converted to unpleasant office spaces, were taken out and reinvented into a ramp down to below-grade parking — not a necessity, but an amenity, according to von Geldern — and 200 bike parking spaces, serving the nature of the neighborhood and transit.

“We were able to achieve some pretty interesting architecture, like in the lobby and outdoor spaces, working in close tandem with (the builders) to pull it off,” Lommen said. “Given the existing structure and spatial organization, we were able to bring back into being... the building itself has a lot of interesting spatial experiences and opportunities when we expose it all.”

Personalized Spaces

June marks the completion of the base building, after which potential tenants can request personalization of their offices with the designers, Allied Works Architecture.

“The office space work there primarily has been to open things up to the structure, create a good base for the building that different tenant can then come in and make it their own,” von Geldern said. “We added a mezzanine level and a couple of patios as amenities for the building — some private, some used by the entire building.”

Despite a tight budget between Urban Renaissance, Fortis Construction and Allied Works, Lommen, von Geldern and their teams were able to follow through on a plan that reinstated historical aspects of the building and created more street-level interaction downtown.

They have hopes to add an art piece to the steep grade change along Sixth Avenue, as well.

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