Housing Block east elevation
East elevation
Housing Block north elevation
North elevation
Housing Block typical plan
Typical plan
Housing Block section through courtyard
Section through courtyard
Housing Block longitudinal section
Longitudinal section

This project proposes a large mixed-use courtyard building with 200 apartment units on Portland’s NW 23rd Avenue. Deploying familiar forms and basic methods of construction, nine different apartment types are arranged in repeating clusters which collectively comprise the plan. The building’s volume is defined by a series of house-forms that are strung together and rest on an elevated concrete platform. The organizational reading of distinct parts versus an overall building form is held in tension by the misalignment of the exterior envelope with the internal organization, generating a variety of spatial arrangements through an economy of means.

Residential units are reached through a number of discrete entryways, permitting many apartments to look both outwards and into the courtyard. Short double-loaded corridors have direct views of the neighborhood from the elevators. Within the units full height glass doors can be opened onto the outdoors. On the top levels terraces are carved out from the pitched roofs.

Commercial businesses and community spaces are located along the perimeter of the block and parking is situated on two levels below the courtyard. From 23rd Avenue a wide ramp leads under the apartments and into the central garden. Opposite, a monumental stair leads to 22nd Avenue below and connects the two streets through the center of the block. Here the residential floors step down and larger perimeter programs embed themselves into the plinth, creating a quieter atmosphere at the eastern end. The two grounds established in the project— along the perimeter and within the courtyard— enable a basic arrangement of units to address the scale and character of the site with great dexterity.

Housing Block site plan
Housing Block corner view
Housing Block enlarged unit plans

Location: Portland, Ore.
Project: 2009
Program: 200 apartments, gymnasium, meeting rooms, retail, parking
Area: 380,000 sq ft