By Matthew Power Described by architect Robert S. Leeb as nominal low-rise architecture, this eight-story, industrial-style building took advantage of commercial materials and techniques to create 134 units of condominiums along with commercial and live/work space on the bottom level.

Custom details such as external metal trusses, metal cladding panels, and board-form concrete give the building a historic look, at the same time integrating it with the current neighborhood.

"The big thing in Portland's planning is keeping the street level part of a pedestrian experience," notes Leeb. "We wrapped retail units at floor level on the active streets and created a base with two-and-a-half levels of parking. One thing that helped was Portland's unique 200-by-200-foot blocks."

Another smart move on the architect's part: a public meeting with the neighbors. "We had more than 50 people show up," Leeb explains. "We asked them, 'What's important to you about living in a loft?' Some of them already live in lofts, and some were interested. The No. 1 priority: high ceilings."

The units cost about $125 per square foot to build, with land development costs at $18,700 per unit. Overall density amounts to a whopping 144 units per acre, and units range in price from $115,000 for a small studio to $660,000 for a luxury two-bedroom penthouse.

Photo: Strode Photographic

To the developer's good fortune, the city recently announced plans for a new light-rail terminal next door, and sales have responded favorably. "It's an added bonus," notes the architect, "because it links the area with a large hospital nearby." Category: Lofts; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner: Robert S. Leeb Architects & Planners, Portland, Ore.; Builder: Howard S. Wright Construction Co., Portland; Developer: Hoyt Street Properties, Portland; Landscape Architect: Murase Associates, Portland; Interior Designer: Emmons Co., Portland

Pre-Fab Concrete Walls

To speed construction and save costs, thin-shell concrete panels from Optima Building Systems were shipped to the site from Canada and set in place with a crane. "Portland, Ore., has a five-story limit on wood-frame structures," architect Robert S. Leeb explains. "These panels have integral metal studs built in. They pour them face down on wood so that you get a nice wood pattern in the concrete."

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