State of Wonder

3 New High-Rises Raise Portland's Skyline

By April Baer (OPB) and Randy Gragg (OPB)
Portland, Oregon July 29, 2016 11:30 p.m.
Indigo @ twelve | west, designed by ZGF partner Eugene Sandoval.

Indigo @ twelve | west, designed by ZGF partner Eugene Sandoval.

Courtesy of Wes Pope.


Portland is growing up. Fast.

The last time we saw a major new office building constructed was in 2000, when the 27-story Fox Tower went up. But as our architecture and urban design columnist-in-residence, Randy Gragg, says, “Get ready: We’re making up for lost time."

Sixty-two buildings over 100-feet-tall are in the pipeline, and downtown’s largest property owner, the Goodman family, recently floated a speculative proposal for four new towers that could rise as high as 460 feet.

Several key new high-rises are just finishing up, so we asked Gragg to show us around and talk with their architects. We also joined with University of Oregon journalism professor Wes Pope and some of his students to create videos using their very own drones.

Park Avenue West

Robert Thompson, principal | TVA Architects

“As you look to the east, there's virtually no development," says Thompson. "It's almost like there's this foreground to the building, as you perceive it from the east side. I was thinking very much about how do we make this building as simple and as elegant as we can, and enhance the verticality and the form of it.”


The Cosmopolitan

Brad Demby, associate principal | Bora Architects

"Portland’s an interesting city because our blocks are so small that, especially in a development like the Pearl District, you have to think about all 4 sides,” says Brad Demby. "It’s difficult to build on a half block or quarter block and remain profitable. You’re building a lot more skin per floor area.  So it’s a commitment by the developer to do something special like this.”

Indigo @ twelve | west

Randy Gragg (left) with Gene Sandoval, at Indigo.

Randy Gragg (left) with Gene Sandoval, at Indigo.

Courtesy of Wes Pope

Eugene Sandoval, partner | Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP

“Playing with the color of the glass," says Sandoval, "this contrast between solid and void, the different size of the panel, the different modules of the glass pieces, this all became of game: how do you make a graphic? A mosaic? The read of the solid and void became important.”