No. 555 . 04 April 2012 
ArchitectureWeek

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The Bud Clark Commons by Holst Architecture provides an elegant, high-performance building for a deep social program, hosting state-of-the-art layered support for homeless and very low-income people in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Sally Schoolmaster

New Northwest Architecture

by Brian Libby

The City of Portland and Multnomah County, Oregon, have a vision: to eradicate homelessness within their jurisdictions by 2015 through providing more permanent housing and improving social support. One step toward this ambitious goal is the new Bud Clark Commons in Portland.

Named for a popular former mayor, the facility provides a spectrum of services at one site, including health care, learning resources, counseling, and a barber shop, all to help homeless individuals transition to a more permanent living situation off the streets. The eight-story, 107,000-square-foot (9,940-square-meter), LEED Platinum-certified building, designed by Holst Architecture, is located in the city's blighted but revitalizing Old Town neighborhood, adjacent to downtown.

The Commons was one of several projects honored by the Portland and Seattle chapters of the American Institute of Architects in their separate 2011 awards programs. The premiated projects represent a cross section of buildings in the Pacific Northwest, ranging from private and intimate to public and vast.

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The eight-story, LEED Platinum-certified Commons building is located at the western edge of Portland's Old Town district, a neighborhood that already contains many homeless-outreach services. Photo: Sally Schoolmaster

Bud Clark Commons • Portland, Oregon

A walk-in day center on the north side of the Bud Clark Commons provides easy access to services, while an entry on the west side leads to the 90-bed men's temporary shelter. On the south side, a private entrance leads to the building's 130 studio apartments, located on the upper five floors, which provide permanent housing to very low-income men and women.

Both inside and out, the design balances neutral and utilitarian materials with dashes of color and richer finishes. The upper facades, clad in light brick on one side of the building and dark brick on the other, are enlivened by glass window accents in shades of green. In the second-floor common area, bright-yellow dining chairs and warm-toned lockers contrast with white walls and exposed concrete, while daylight enters through floor-to-ceiling windows. Wood finishes provide visual warmth in key areas, such as upper residential hallways and the shelter entry route.   >>>

Bud Clark Commons, Portland, OregonVancouver Community Library, Vancouver, WashingtonTandem Townhouses, Portland, OregonWood Block Residence, Mercer Island, WashingtonEarly Childhood Center, Gresham, OregonAnd More...

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