In 2015, Brian Faherty – owner of Portland-based Schoolhouse Electric – came across the perfect building for his newest retail outpost in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood. Built in 1972 for AAA, the building had iconic mid-century modern elements, which attracted Faherty immediately. But the building, later home to the investigative branch of Pittsburgh’s Police Bureau, had been abandoned for nearly a decade and was in a state of complete disrepair. Having made a name for himself restoring and preserving elements of American design, Faherty could see what no one else had in years: The Detective Building was worth saving.
Owen Gabbert LLC had worked with Faherty in the past, so we were excited to partner on this venture, especially given the opportunity to apply the same type of adaptive reuse approach we’ve used on 1900s wooden warehouses in Portland to a newer concrete and steel building in the rust belt. Part of the challenge in this project was seeing where we could help return the building to its original luster, while adding modern amenities. We worked alongside the Schoolhouse design team, along with the contractor and Pittsburgh’s mossArchitects, to decide what elements we could renovate and maintain, which fixtures and materials we could salvage and weave into the design, and where we could replicate and innovate based on the history of the building.
As the developer on The Detective Building, our work began with lining up financing for the purchase of the building across four different loans and assisting in acquiring the space from the urban renewal agency that owned it at the time of purchase and continued through management of the design and construction. In the end, after three years of collaboration, we are proud to have turned a once dilapidated building into more than just a beautifully renovated new presence for Schoolhouse Electric, but also a co-working space, Beauty Shoppe, and an aptly named coffee shop, The Bureau. Today, The Detective Building shines as an emblem of what The Schoolhouse Electric brand is best known for: “… the preservation of American manufacturing, thoughtful living and purposeful design.”
Designer: Schoolhouse Electric (Brian Faherty)
Developer: Owen Gabbert LLC
One North is an approximately 100,000-square-foot urban infill office and retail development in north Portland. The project is the result of a collaboration between two development teams across three uniquely designed buildings and a 14,000-square-foot public courtyard.
The East and West Buildings, developed collaboratively by Owen Gabbert, LLC and Nels Gabbert, LLC comprise roughly 70,000 square feet of office space. As the first primarily heavy timber buildings built in Portland in the last 50 years, these spaces represent a shift in the development and construction world, showcasing the potential of wood as both a structural and finish material. The remaining 36,000 square feet of space is in the Radiator Building; this area was designed and developed by Kaiser Group.
Portland-based digital creative agency, Instrument, now occupies three floors of the East Building, which includes a centrally-situated auditorium that simultaneously allows employees to see one another while offering a central stairway and gathering place via the bleachers. This office space, lined with wood and plentiful windows, is both modern and classic in form and function.
The shared 14,000-square-foot courtyard brings each of the buildings of One North together, and invites community members in as they walk by. In addition to the high performance mechanical systems and advanced envelopes implemented in each building, both have highly unique elements. From an early earthquake-warning system in Radiator, to the undulating curves of the East and West Buildings, One North is genuinely one-of-a-kind.
This project was completed in winter of 2015. Please visit the One North Website for additional project information.
Development Team: Karuna Properties II, LLC; Nels Gabbert, LLC; Kaiser Group Inc.; Owen Gabbert, LLC
Designer: Holst Architecture
Mechanical Engineer: McKinstry
Structural Engineer: Froelich Consulting Engineers
Contractor: R&H Construction
Finance Partner: Bank of the Cascades
Photographer: Andrew Pogue Photography
Owen Gabbert, LLC was initially engaged by Schoolhouse Electric to manage a complicated electrical service upgrade that required careful coordination with building occupants and the adjacent railroad. Subsequently, we were asked to evaluate and execute the factory expansion into the previously storage focused 4th floor. Working in a full service capacity as both construction manager and design-build general contractor, Owen Gabbert, LLC helped realize the company and building owner’s vision for the new spaces, while concurrently directing a highly involved permit process and factory equipment install. Careful curation of the existing building’s historic aesthetic was balanced against the need for improved functionality in the form of new lighting, sound wall partitions, and poplar clad breakout rooms that accentuate the exposed timber and masonry structure.
Owen Gabbert, LLC conceived of the third unit in the backyard of the Mississippi Duplex as a way to maximize underutilized space, add density without demolition, and engage the alley. In addition to arranging the financing, we led and managed a complex permitting process, before completing construction as the general contractor. Throughout the project we implemented green strategies and features into a design that blends architectural history with modern technology.
We see this unit as a case study for projects that front the alleys that run through multiple Portland neighborhoods, rather than turning away, in an effort to explore alternative forms of infill and density inspired by Laneway Houses in Vancouver.
Development Team: Owen Gabbert, LLC
Designer: Kai Yonezawa
Contractor: Owen Gabbert, LLC
Engineer: Madden & Baughman
Finance Partner: Albina Community Bank
Photographers & Stylists: Kate Richard & Jenny Trygg
Treehouse signed on as the anchor tenant in the Karuna West building early on during shell construction. To facilitate a mutually beneficial process, Owen Gabbert, LLC managed the design, permitting, and construction of the tenant improvement work on behalf of the building owner and the tenant. As an online education company, the Treehouse program required studios to record videos. To accommodate that need, a section of roof was redesigned during construction to allow for the necessary additional height on the 5th floor, and special considerations were made to ensure a soundproof environment. A large open café area on the 4th floor provides a central gathering area for employees and visitors. The rest of the space is primarily designed as open office, with strategically placed conference and breakout rooms, to maximize the natural light and heavy timber building design.
Built in 1971, this ranch house remained relatively unchanged in its 40 year existence. Owen Gabbert, LLC helped the new owners acquire the home, coordinated and participated in the design process, and ultimately remodeled the existing home and built an attached ADU in the backyard. To modernize the home, both in feel and function, existing partition walls between the living room and kitchen were removed, the garage shrank to accommodate a laundry room and a larger, reoriented, open kitchen with an island. Careful consideration was made for aging in place, so ADA standards were considered throughout. On the outside, existing T1-11 plywood siding, originally used as both a structural and finish material, was covered with 1” of rigid insulation to improve the energy performance and dark stained tongue and groove cedar siding to improve the appearance. Colorful accents and new landscaping/hardscaping complement the house.
Completed in conjunction with the Commercial House remodel, this ADU is intended to help offset the monthly mortgage, offer accommodations for future live-in care, and add density to the increasingly popular Mississippi neighborhood in Portland, without tearing down existing homes or overly imposing on the neighbors. Given the compact nature of the home, ceiling height, light, and simplicity were emphasized. Natural light comes in from all sides through large windows and the structural material is the finished floor at each level. The 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom unit is spacious enough to feel comfortable and private enough to feel personal. A patio opens to the south and the unit can be accessed from the alley behind or the street in front via a path to the north of the house. The unit blends with the existing house by virtue of matching siding and windows, but differentiates itself through it’s vertical orientation – just tall enough to see over the house, but barely noticeable from the street.
The Mississippi Duplex is a converted 1910 foursquare craftsman home. Owen Gabbert, LLC handled all steps of the project, including acquisition, financing, design, and construction. The project included a full rehab of each unit and the exterior of the house. Part restoration and part modernization, we removed asbestos siding at the exterior of the house to reveal the original cedar lap siding and installed a historically accurate drip cap at the belly band as well as lintels at the window and door casing. In the upper unit, a pair of fir French doors open on to a new Ipe deck with a custom 2x2 cedar railing, added to provide quality outdoor space. On the inside, both kitchens were demolished, redesigned with open floor plans, and completely rebuilt. Existing and reclaimed fir is featured prominently throughout the building, including a custom bar built from studs reclaimed from removed interior walls and the original refinished floors.
The Forest Grove Medical Clinic is an award-winning building originally constructed in 1979 with subsequent additions completed in 1981 and 1983. In more recent years, it has fallen into disrepair while not in use. Owen Gabbert, LLC was hired to complete a survey of the existing buildings in order to evaluate what work needed to be done as well as examine what renovations could be done, including the cost implications of each.
Over the course of the survey, a preliminary feasibility study was completed to determine the most appropriate redevelopment options. Presently, ownership is considering their options, with intent of testing the market using information provided by Owen Gabbert, LLC as a guide.