"We have not done the easiest project. And that happened intentionally," Owen Gabbert says of One North. What he refers to is a coordinated effort between himself, Nels Gabbert and Ben Kaiser – a project that combines three office and retail buildings developed around a public courtyard that was focused on providing, as ULI puts it, "precise engineering, ultra-efficient construction, and hand-selected timber to craft a space that warmly welcomes both young businesses and established residents." One North was built in the heart of one of Portland's quickly changing, historically residential neighborhoods. Establishing a large office building in this traditionally low rise and lower income area without adversely impacting existing residents posed a unique challenge. As Owen puts it, "We were a part of the challenge, and we recognized this. So instead of ignoring it, we tried to proactively tackle it by providing a new space that weaves into the fabric of the existing neighborhood." From the ULI Case Study Post:
“We began to think about how we could work together effectively as neighbors, and partners, throughout the development process,” Nels Gabbert says. The three parcels at One North created “the opportunity to team up with another developer, share infrastructure costs, and share a vision for the courtyard. That became an important, defining element of this process.”
The group gathered for a charrette and a study visit to the Bullitt Center. Kevin Valk, principal at Holst Architecture, recalls visiting the Bullitt Center and thinking, “This is great, I love it—let’s do it in a way that’s realistic, affordable, and could be replicated.”
Kaiser agrees, “We took [Bullitt] as inspiration as to what could be achieved but wanted to take that down into the realm of the rest of us—that we could actually build, and for other developers to emulate.”
Those studies established three key values for the project: architectural excellence, energy efficiency and sustainability, and role as a community asset. At the same time, says Holst partner and project designer John Holmes, “It had to be balanced: it couldn’t just be great architecture or just sustainable.”
To learn more about how One North was developed, we invite you to watch the ULI Case Study video, above.