LOCATION
Portland, OR

STATUS
Completed 2018

SQUARE FOOTAGE
35,400 SF

CONSTRUCTION TYPE
Type IIIB

DESIGN TEAM
Daniel Kaven, Partner-in-Charge
Trevor William Lewis, Partner-in-Charge
Mike Perso, Project Architect
Max Taschek, Project Designer
Joel Dickson, Project Designer

CATEGORIES
Mixed-use Office and Retail

AWARDS
2019 DJC Top Project, 3rd Place

PUBLICATION
Portland Business Tribune
“A Winner on Williams”

Daily Journal of Commerce
“Photos: Heavy timber mixed-use building arrives”

Located in a neighborhood that has been transformed in recent years by a considerable building boom, Silica is a heavy timber office and retail project that acknowledges the industrial roots of the site while contributing to the aesthetic character of the neighborhood as a whole. The site was formerly home to a single-story, un-reinforced steel fabrication shop, a history referenced in Silica’s steel and heavy-timber construction. Several of the old-growth beams from the deconstructed building were repurposed into furniture for the new lobby and common areas on the floors above, including benches that sit atop steel legs fabricated by the very manufacturing plant that Silica replaces. “Architecture of Normal,” a mural at the entrance of the lobby by one of the firm’s partners, serves as a visual link to surrounding buildings in the neighborhood, many of which prominently feature exterior murals.

Silica’s program consists of ground-floor retail, office and covered parking. The base, which houses five retail spaces, is clad in board-form concrete with large glazed openings. Cantilevering out from the base sits a three-story box clad in a dramatic and highly efficient curtain wall with interstitial panels of pin-stripe fritted glass running top to bottom. Along N Williams, the cantilever provides more than 7’ of overhang to shelter a sidewalk cafe program. An outdoor terrace with a green roof and an extension of the office along the south at Level 2 serve to break down the building’s mass and scale and negotiate a transition to its residential neighbors to the south. Balconies along the west facade capture views of downtown Portland and the West Hills while providing shading and privacy to the large expanses of office window. Two concrete cores that house the vertical circulation support the building in shear while massive glue-laminated heavy timber beams with fir car-decking and a concrete topping slab span between to make up the floors.

Critical to the design of Silica was meticulous landscape integration; the terrace’s green roof and the balconies’ steel planters, along with the vine trellises and foliage at the base of the building, produce views as stunning from the inside as they are from the outside. The building was deliberately set back from the street to accommodate the sidewalk tables and a row of cork oak trees.

 
 
Silica_Daniel Kaven_05.jpg
The Silica on Williams Avenue marks a new chapter in an ongoing urban story in Portland.
— Portland Business Tribune
Few Portland streets have as dramatic a history as Williams Avenue, which forms the border between the city’s North and Northeast quadrants as it stretches from the Rose Quarter through neighborhoods like Boise, Eliot and Humboldt. When a positive addition like the Silica Building comes along, perhaps it’s time to take stock.
— Brian Libby, Portland Architecture
Silica corner view
Silica bench
 
 
 

SITE

Located in a neighborhood that has been transformed in recent years by a considerable building boom, Silica serves as a quietly assertive anchor that acknowledges the industrial roots of the site while elevating the aesthetic standards of the neighborhood as a whole. The site was formerly home to a single-story, un-reinforced steel fabrication shop, a history referenced in Silica’s steel and heavy-timber construction. Several of the old-growth beams from the deconstructed building were repurposed into furniture for the new lobby and common areas on the floors above, including benches that sit atop steel legs fabricated by the very manufacturing plant that Silica replaces. In this sense, the interior embodies the place and the spirit of the site.

Silica-2018-0250_Lo.jpg
 

MURAL

Architecture of Normal, a mural at the entrance of the lobby by Partner Daniel Kaven, serves as a visual link to surrounding buildings in the neighborhood, many of which prominently feature exterior murals.

 
Daniel Kaven examines progress on his mural,  Architecture of Normal , in the lobby of the Silica building.
Daniel Kaven’s finished mural,  Architecture of Normal,  in the lobby of the Silica building.
The lobby of the Silica building featuring William / Kaven Architecture partner Daniel Kaven’s mural,  Architecture of Normal.
 

CONTEXT

Portland is divided into 6 neighborhood quadrants, N, NW, SW, SE, NE and E. North Williams Avenue is a north-south street that defines the eastern boundary of North Portland. Stretching 3.3 miles from northeast Winning Way near the Moda Center to North Winchell Street, Williams runs through the Eliot, Boise, Humboldt, and Piedmont neighborhoods. The central blocks of North Williams are commonly referred to as the Williams District. The project site is located on the corner of Williams and Mason, in the heart of the Williams District, surrounded by thriving retail shops, popular restaurants and modern apartments.