U.S. Building of the Week


15. June 2020
Photo: Stephen Miller

Sideyard fits a narrow space in Portland's Eastside, near the Burnside Bridge and across the street from the Fair-Haired Dumbell. Skylab's design for the five-story office building incorporates a CLT structure behind a brick facade. The architects sent us some text and images on the project.

Project: Sideyard, 2019
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Client: Key Development
Architect: Skylab
  • Design Director: Jeff Kovel
  • Project Manager: Brent Grubb
  • Project Directors: Jill Asselineau
  • Project Architects: Nathan Cox, Jennifer Martin
  • Project Designers: Tony Tranquilli, Andrew Borell
  • Visualizer: Stephen Miller
Contractor: Anderson Construction  
Civil Engineer: Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc.  
Structural Engineer: catena engineers  
Mechanical Engineer: PAE  
Electrical Engineer: Evans Engineering and Consulting  
Landscape: Shapiro Didway Landscape Architects  
Plumbing: Caliber Plumbing and Mechanical  
Specifications: JLC Architectural Consulting
Building Area: 20,000 sf
Photo: Stephen Miller
Please provide an overview of the project.

A leftover 9,000-square-foot berm space was created when the City of Portland built the new one-way Couch Street couplet reconnecting the roadway to the Burnside Bridge. Sideyard was designed to fit this urban remnant property as a working-class building aimed at public transportation connectivity, pedestrian openness, and bicycle priority access. It is positioned centrally in the new Eastside community envisioned by the Burnside Bridgehead Framework plan. 

The ground floor will be activated by storefront along Third Avenue and work space above. This building program will reintegrate a pedestrian stair down from the Burnside Bridge level to Third Avenue akin to the original stairs that previously existed. This wedge building will feature a new CLT structural system with open ground level commuter-oriented retail environments for daily guests and tenants. The workspace above will be wrapped in brick masonry with the building acting as an anchor for the Burnside Bridge and a gateway to the Eastside community.

Photo: Stephen Miller
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?

Jill Asselineau, Project Director at Skylab: "Finding a harmonious voice in this emerging neighborhood that is responsive and in tune with the modern vernacular. Placing a quoin upon an underutilized site to maximize the neighborhoods potential."

Photo: Stephen Miller
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?

This Central Eastside site is located at the geographic heart of the City of Portland and at the edge of the daily commuter flow of automobiles, bikes and pedestrians. The development helps to strengthen the connection between the Eastside community and the Westside downtown urban core. Also located in the neighborhood is the world-renowned Burnside Skatepark, constructed on an adjacent leftover city space beneath the Burnside Bridge and leased to the skate community. The building development team has additionally leased a small space under the bridge adjacent to Sideyard and the skate park for food carts. This will extend the Third Avenue ground level retail environment into the forgotten and unused urban spaces full of creative potential. 

Asselineau also said, "The siting of Sideyard created a piazza at the corner of Couch and Burnside. A popular bicycle commuter route, the critical mass of neighborhood, and future restaurant tenants will work together to activate this neighborhood amenity."


Photo: Stephen Miller
Was the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?

"Cross laminated timber," said Asselineau, "is a new and sustainable building material that celebrates the inherent structural qualities of wood. This material was championed by the general contractor for its regional relevance, availability, and simplicity of assemblage. Employing this mass timber system saved on both time and labor expenses. The project also used mass plywood for the interior stair structure, landings and treads. This project is one of the first to employ and elegantly demonstrate the potential of this wood product."

Photo: Stephen Miller
What products or materials have contributed to the success of the completed building?

  • Interstate Brick
  • Georgia Pacific Dens Element
  • Tech Lighting
  • Arcadia Storefront and Curtain Wall
  • DR Johnson CLT panels and glulam members
  • Freres mass plywood panels

Photo: Stephen Miller
Photo: Stephen Miller
Photo: Stephen Miller
Level 1 Plan (Drawing: Skylab)
Level 2 Plan (Drawing: Skylab)
Level 3 Plan (Drawing: Skylab)
Level 4 Plan (Drawing: Skylab)
Level 5 Plan (Drawing: Skylab)
Third Avenue Elevation (Drawing: Skylab)
Cross Section (Drawing: Skylab)

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