In response to its flourishing membership, the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects expanded its operations into a one-story historic structure in Portland’s bustling Pearl District. Holst transformed the former carriage house, one of the oldest structures in the city, into a hub for the region’s architecture and design community.
The LEED Platinum building houses the chapter’s administration, gallery, education, and community gathering spaces. By situating core elements in the north side of the brick and timber shell, the open public spaces enjoy the light from the south-facing windows.
The old horse stable is split into three zones: the office, the gallery (cleverly utilizing the exterior walls of the steel storage cube in the center of the building), and a flexible space coined the “sandbox” that is used for educational classes, events, and film nights.
Taking a cue from the south wall’s past—historically a billboard for a chocolate maker—the team created a garden wall grid of steel over the chocolate-colored brick wall. The wall serves as a framework for shade vines, an intricate gutter system for bringing roof water to a bioswale, and a symbolic billboard giving the building identity beyond its modest brick exterior.