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Skylab Architecture designs Columbia Building for the City of Portland, Oregon (USA), a sustainable multi-function complex that's integrated into the landscape

Project name:
Columbia Building
Architecture firm:
Skylab Architecture
Portland, Oregon, USA
Jeremy Bittermann
Principal architect:
Brent Grubb
Design team:
Jeff Kovel, Design Director. Brent Grubb, Project Architect and Manager. Susan Barnes, Project Architect
Civil Engineer: Vigil Agrimis, Inc.; Branding: The Felt Hat .; Consultants: Green Building Services.; Partner Architect: Solarc Architecture and Engineering Inc.; Sculpture Artist: John Grade.
Built area:
11,640 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Interior design:
2.ink Studio
Structural engineer:
Catena Consulting Engineers
Environmental & MEP:
Biella Lighting Design
Tools used:
Bureau of Environmental Services
Office - Building

Skylab Architecture:The Columbia Building supports the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services. Housing workspace, a visitor reception area, and public meeting spaces, the 11,640-square-foot building not only supports the engineering department of the wastewater treatment facility but also functions as an immersive educational experience, all integrated within a sustainable landscape.

The new single-story building features seven folded cast-in-place concrete roof forms that channel stormwater through a planted roof, which drains along the berms into a visible collection system that leads to the Columbia River. The project accomplished three unique objectives in one single campus site: the creation of a vibrant and efficient workspace; clean on-site stormwater filtration; and a dynamic building that stimulates conversation about the health of the region’s watershed and rivers.

The transparent north facade focuses attention towards a central and partially enclosed Commons area, as well as to the habitat that surrounds the building. The serrated curtain wall features operable air circulation vents which enables the interior spaces to be natural ventilated. Mirrored glass reflects and refracts light in the Commons, merging the building into the landscape. The building is LEED Gold certified.

By Liliana Alvarez

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