Situated at the corner of North Williams Avenue and Shaver Street, Parallax is a five-story mixed-use development, including 66 market-rate apartments over premium retail space fronting the thriving Williams Corridor. The opportunity: elevate a common Portland multi-family archetype, the 4/5 over 1, while simultaneously respecting the history of the site and “The Machine”, an iconic mural that once adorned the facade of the warehouse previously occupying the site.

Parallax demonstrates William / Kaven’s commitment to design excellence, sensitive response to site and history, landscape integration and our creative problem solving skills from project conception to execution.


William / Kaven worked within the developer’s budget to prioritize quality of space, simple but elegant massing and a refined palette of exterior materials. Large floor to ceiling windows, placed on axis to unit entries, flood living spaces with daylight and lend the efficiently sized apartments an expansive experience. At the southeast corner of the top floor, a roof terrace breaks down the building’s mass, negotiating a transition to its residential neighbors while commanding spectacular views of Mt. Hood.

Full-sized trees and abundant plantings throughout create a sky garden respite for residents. The upper massing of the apartment units cantilevers slightly beyond an exposed concrete and storefront base and composes a common palette of materials in an uncommon way. Brick, metal panel, and vinyl windows appear on nearly every multi-family effort in the neighborhood, but each material is carefully and uniquely detailed, in a way that imbues each elevation with dynamic movement. Dark iron spot brick in a stack bond forms a historically relevant, but modernly expressed, upper mass. Large windows recall the punched openings of streetcar-era commercial buildings while their shifting pattern creates a modern movement and rhythm. Metal panels on randomly alternating sides of the windows are painted in five different shades of blue and slightly canted. The panels appear as a light-to-dark gradient when viewed parallel to the facade from either end, but as a random mix of blue when viewed perpendicular to the facade. This dynamic reading based on observers’ orientation is the genesis for the building’s name: Parallax.

Early in the project, William / Kaven reached out to “The Machine” artist, Tom Cramer, to consider the preservation of the mural or honoring the mural’s spirit. It became apparent that saving the existing mural was not feasible, William / Kaven and Tom Cramer conceived a solution that would see Cramer paint a new mural, in nearly the exact spot as “The Machine”, while also painting a mural in the new residential lobby. The new mural will provide a playful, colorful juxtaposition to the rhythm and rigor of the architecture. This successful collaboration left all stakeholders, from developer, to artist, to architect, to neighborhood, excited for what is to come, and turned a potentially fraught situation into a celebrated outcome.