What If Rubber and Rock ’n’ Roll Could Spark a Fringe Neighborhood Revival?
Theatre 300b / Works Partnership Architecture

A 100-foot-square plot near a major highway in an industrial neighborhood in Portland, Ore.

A 2,000-seat theater designed to hold rock concerts. The small footprint requires a vertical organization, and the stage and audience spaces are fronted by a series of ramps that provide circulation and informal gathering spaces.

Filling a void in Portland’s thriving music scene for a venue bigger than a club and smaller than an arena—a need that was all too obvious to the client, one of the area’s largest music promoters—the project combines the program of an old-school music hall with an innovative approach to public space. Circulation paths leading from the lobby to the hall itself are articulated along the façade and are studded with four large projecting windows, which offer views across the Willamette River to the downtown skyline and, at the same time, put the spectators on display. Juror Adele Chatfield-Taylor “loved the simplicity of it and the straightforwardness of it” and likened the choreographed effect of the façade to a stage set.

Recognizing the potential for wear and tear at rock concerts, the team at local firm Works Partnership Architecture chose a palette of materials that can take a beating—such as rubber, felt, and neoprene. Gritty chic is nothing new to this firm—its first project in 2005 was the adaptive reuse of an industrial cereal mill. The effect in this project­—both with materials and siting—won over juror John Peterson: “It looks, to me, like what it should be. It’s in the location that I think it should be, and it has the tone to it that I would imagine. It’s just sort of rock ’n’ roll,” he said.

Project Credits

Project Theatre 300b, Portland, Ore.
Client Randy Rapaport (private developer), Monqui Presents (Northwest music promoter)
Architect Works Partnership Architecture, Portland, Ore.—William Neburka (principal, project designer); Carrie Schilling (principal, project designer/project manager); Jennifer Dzienis (project architect); Lauren Hollinger, Benjamin Gray (project team)
Structural Consultant DCI Engineers
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer Alliant Technologies
Theater and Production Consultant Shalleck Collaborative
Size 40,000 square feet
Projected Cost $8 million