Courtesy Holst Architecture | Andrew Pogue
Courtesy Holst Architecture | Andrew Pogue

The east and west buildings of One North in North Portland’s Williams District have a secret.

Beyond the curvaceous, sinewy cedar-clad form and distinctive cantilevered-massing, the office buildings operate at a fraction of the cost of other Class A Portland office properties. In fact, each One North structure uses less than half the energy of a typical office building. This perpetual energy dividend was achieved in a way “that’s realistic, affordable, and replicable,” according to Kevin Valk, a partner and design director at Portland-based Holst Architecture.

The One North owner challenged Valk and his team to prove that a sustainable, Class A office center could be constructed on a market-rate basis.

Courtesy Holst Architecture | Andrew Pogue
Courtesy Holst Architecture | Andrew Pogue

Hybrid Building System
“Both structures are a glulam post-and-beam system,” explains Valk. “The floor is tongue-and-groove mass timber sealed by a 2.5-inch concrete slab. On the floor underside reveals exposed wood decking and glulam. The exterior wall is typical light construction using 2x6-inch studs with plywood shear walls. The only thing that isn’t wood is the ground floor concrete podium.” The five-story west building is a Type III-B structure; the east building is Type V-B.

Not surprisingly, wood construction played the starring role. In addition to its significant cost advantages, wood addresses the owner’s sustainability and operational directives: Wood is renewable and has good insulating characteristics.

Good Neighbor
The siding is primarily Western Red Cedar with stucco elements. All the cedar was locally sourced. Both structures have sprinkler systems and “had no issues” meeting code according to Valk.

One North not only respects the environment, but the neighborhood as well. The most prominent example of that is the 14,000-square-foot central courtyard. Local residents are welcome to use the space as a public gathering place. For a neighborhood experiencing rapid redevelopment, the courtyard is a tranquil island of community calm.

Courtesy Holst Architecture | Andrew Pogue
Courtesy Holst Architecture | Andrew Pogue

The business performance of One North is especially gratifying. As office space, One North stands apart: It is the only Class A office building in the neighborhood and lays claim as Portland’s only new-construction, all-timber office center. Wood construction effortlessly differentiates One North in a crowded Class A office marketplace. Today, the building is fully leased.

“The availability of wood, the beauty of it, and understanding what it provides for warmth, texture, color, and service as both a finishing and structural material is unique,” Valk says.

“There’s nothing like it.”

For more on project efficiencies of wood construction, visit Think Wood.