The Portland Building Portland, Oregon

The Portland Building is a 15-story high-rise occupied by City of Portland bureaus. As an internationally renowned architectural example of Post-Modernism designed by Michael Graves, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Constructed in 1982 as a design-bid-build project, the building had developed problems with its structure, exterior, and operational systems that repairs alone could not address.

A First of its Kind, Progressive Design Build

The City of Portland initiated a $195 million project to reconstruct the building, making it the city’s largest capital project and an unprecedented use of a progressive design build as a delivery method. As part of the city project management team, Otak worked directly with the designer (DLR Group) and contractor (Howard S. Wright), who were hired as a team, to develop the award-winning project along established requirements that covered budget, schedule, structural upgrades, MEP system replacement, equity criteria and resolving water infiltration issues.

The project addressed the building envelope issues by covering the concrete façade with a unitized curtain wall and terracotta rain screen tiles that eliminated leaking while preserving its historic status and appearance. The restored façade also greatly improved the poor natural lighting which, combined with a full interior remodel, drastically transformed the building’s working environment. The team also organized the temporary relocation of all city staff – more than 1200 people – to ensure that the city maintained normal operations throughout the project. To prepare the staff to return to the building, employees were engaged in a comprehensive change management process, including virtual reality simulations, extensive mock-ups and providing 3D walkthroughs of the new workspace before construction.

As the first major northwest project to mandate disaggregated equity goals, The Portland Building project exceeded its 22% MWESB contracting target by achieving 33% participation. Along with seismic upgrades and system replacements, the building also exceeded its original sustainability goal of LEED Gold standards and achieve LEED Platinum Certification. In addition, the Portland Building is targeting WELL certification, a first in the Pacific Northwest. The progressive design build delivery method for The Portland Building resulted in the project being completed significantly under budget and one year ahead of schedule.

Project photography credit: James Ewing / JBSA.

Tom Rinehart - Chief Administrative Officer, City of Portland

"Largely due to your professionalism and high quality work at all levels, we have demonstrated that government can successfully complete a challenging project. I cannot overstate how important this is to us as an organization."

[Watch] Designing for a Better Employee Experience

Structural updates to the Portland Building prioritize adding sustainably greater lighting into the building.

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“Completing a challenging project where the owner appreciates the hard work our team invests is what I enjoy most about project management.”

Doug Garland

Practice Area Leader