Mixed Use Brewery Blocks
by Brian Libby
From 1856 to 1999, the Blitz-Weinhard brewery anchored the southern end of Portland Oregon's Pearl District, an industrial enclave reborn as a chic urban neighborhood of galleries, condominiums, and restaurants. The five city blocks occupied in the past by the brewery are now being redeveloped as a high-density, mass-transit-oriented mix of office, retail, and residential architecture, all boasting sustainable design.
The Brewery Blocks mix historic and sustainable in a multibuilding redevelopment now nearing completion and forming a gateway between the Pearl District and downtown Portland.
Gerding-Edlen, the local development company behind the project, saw an opportunity emerge here with the coming of a new streetcar line through the middle of the property. "The development of the Pearl and then the streetcar running right through there made it pretty clear that this wanted to be, and should be, a dense, mixed-use project," says Kelly Saito of Gerding-Edlen.
However, the sheer scope of the project — five buildings and 1.7 million square feet (160,000 square meters) of space — made the Brewery Blocks a tremendous risk. In 1999, when planning began, the dot-com economic boom was showing signs of stress, and there were financial uncertainties surrounding the preservation of the historic Blitz-Weinhard brew house. Yet the developer, committed to historic preservation, decided to build out all five blocks of the project as quickly as possible, including three at once. >>>
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The Brewery Blocks in Portland, Oregon, during the construction of Block 5. From left to right: blocks 4, 2 and 1.
Photo: Brian Libby
A reduction of more than 25 percent of the Brewery Blocks' stormwater runoff was achieved by building an "eco-roof" on the base of Block 4.
Photo: Gregg Galbraith/ Red Studio
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