Historic Warehouse Grows Green
For much of the 20th century, the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon was a gritty and neglected industrial site. Recently, however, the district has revived to become an upscale, downtown neighborhood within a compact and livable city.
One particular success in the district is the restoration and transformation of a century-old warehouse into the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center. This is the home of the environmental organization Ecotrust which is dedicated to the exchange of environmentally and socially responsible goods, services, and ideas.
This center is about connection, restoration, and optimism, said Ecotrust president Spencer Beebe at the building's opening celebration in September, 2001. "The environmental restoration of this wonderful historic building is just the start of a larger story of bringing people together and encouraging ideas that benefit communities and the environment."
More than a thousand people attended the opening. Acclaimed by civic leaders and widely profiled in the media, the Natural Capital Center has already gained recognition as an important contribution to the city's landscape: a unique blend of environmental innovation and historic restoration.
If you're going to buy clothing," says Yves Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, the Natural Capital Center's anchor retail tenant, "the most responsible thing you can do is go to the Salvation Army. And if you're going to open a new business, the most responsible thing you can do is find an old building and restore it." >>>
The recently restored Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland, Oregon.
The building had been a neglected 1895-vintage warehouse.
Photo: Ted Johnson, Rapid Transfer Co.
Click on thumbnail images
to view full-size pictures.