So here is our idea. River’s edge architecture is stuck in the olden times. For centuries industrial development was the riverside imperative because it was so dependent on the watercourse for power and transport of goods. From the state’s historically water-powered lumber mills to the grain silos and freight warehouses on the Willamette in the middle of Portland, the water front has been traditionally prioritized for industry. And when there is turnover, we see mostly large scale residential developments which focus their programs on the bit just at the water to exploit the pricey vistas. We think the former method obsolete and the latter one-dimensional. We think there are new ideas to be explored at the river’s edge so we examined a fresh look at riverside development.
Portland epitomizes the active city. We bike in our city, we hike in our woods, and we row on our river. Our first new idea is focused on that last point. There ought to be development at the river’s edge that enables our active experience of the water. We also believe that the most responsible urban construction is dense, multi-use construction. So we settle on a mixed-use development, residential and commercial, and take a once industrial water site and turn it into an engaged, high-density complex.
We looked at a plot on the Willamette at the southern end of the city at a nexus of connectivity for the actively inclined: it’s at the start of the Spring Water biking corridor, at the future edge of the Eastside Riverwalk promenade, and just south of the new Tilikum Crossing with its downtown access by streetcar. Taking a cue from those freight warehouses we designed around a u-shaped siphonage from the river where kayakers and canoers might launch from directly under their homes. We build densely and sensibly, with low mass buildings by the water that step up in height as they move away from the river highlighting a visual relationship with the water for the most inhabitants. And of course we envision an eco-minded complex with wind turbines atop the towers amid solar paneling and green roofing.
Our notion is to re-utilize the river for the healthy life-styler and we like the idea of waking up at the river’s edge, walking downstairs to community storage, grabbing our kayak and setting out in the morning light to meet our city and river from a new, modernized vantage.