IT'S HARD TO GO WRONG WITH PROPERTY in Portland's Pearl District, the erstwhile industrial zone now revered by city planners nationwide as a model for urban redevelopment. Lexis on the Park, a 139-unit condo project in the heart of said district, had the killer location from the get-go. The building fronts a city plaza to the west—a popular hub for pedestrians and cyclists—and the Central City trolley line literally swings by its front door.

But there was one challenge for the project planners at Mithun and R&H Construction. The site's proximity to the river (read: high water table) meant that a subterranean parking lot couldn't descend more than one story below grade. And although Portland is more enlightened than many locales in the wonders of public transportation, its denizens did have a few cars to house.

The solution: podium parking surrounded by a “doughnut” of retail shops, street-level live/work townhomes, and flats. Araised outdoor courtyard on top of the podium offers a semiprivate retreat for residents.

Clean styling in this outdoor hangout is consistent with the urban vibe of the existing structure. Light columns of brilliant white precast concrete are clad with perforated aluminum, welded stainless steel mesh, and glass tiles. The courtyard is partitioned from the sidewalk by a sculptural metal screen and foliage.


Award: Grand for best attached housing project—midrise (4 to 7 stories); Builder: R&H Construction, Portland, Ore.; Developer: Hoyt Street Properties, Portland; Architect: Mithun, Seattle

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, OR.