William / Kaven Architecture has completed the third in a series of projects along North Portland’s Williams Corridor.
Parallax, a mixed-use project, is the culmination of the studio’s multi-year investment in the design and development of three industrial sites in Portland’s Soul District, which includes their new heavy-timber and glass headquarters, Silica. Parallax, the William / Kaven design team re-imagined the 4 over 1 multifamily archetype that has been popularized throughout the American West over the last two decades. The 66-unit building features an iridescent dark brick and is highlighted by an electric blue gradient of vertical panels across the entire facade―an installation designed by artist and William / Kaven Partner Daniel Kaven.
The constant movement of the sun and seasons across the simmering metal panels amplifies the parallax-like effect and highlights the energy of the active street, which serves as one of Portland’s main bike corridors. In an homage to a beloved mural that once adorned the industrial building formerly on the site, the studio commissioned the original artist, Tom Cramer, to create large-scale murals for both the base of the building and the residential lobby. Cramer, whose work is widely celebrated and collected by museums, is considered an icon of Portland’s urban art scene. W/K partner Daniel Kaven says, “William / Kaven, at its core, is a fine arts-driven firm. Although I’m formally educated in architecture, my background in filmmaking, photography and painting greatly informs the design of our projects, and I love to blend graphics and two-dimensional design with sculptural forms. Parallax afforded me the opportunity to incorporate a sculptural intervention into the architecture: custom-designed metal panels that unfold in gradients of blue across the facade.” In addition to the facade installation and Tom Cramer murals, a series of canvases from Kaven’s ongoing multimedia project Architecture of Normal adorn the lobby, hallways and amenity space of Parallax.
In vivid colors, these pieces explore the history and future of the American West in relation to advancements in transportation. The base of the building consists of glazed aluminum storefront that engages the Shaver and Williams frontages at the public street level. A glass, steel and metal canopy serves to shelter the sidewalk and simultaneously strikes a datum at the building’s transition from glass public base to the dynamically designed upper facade. The upper facade at the apartment units uses brick masonry, a historically relevant material re-imagined in modern form. The staggered windows at each floor lend the elevation a dynamic movement, with the custom metal panels angled and oriented in opposing directions. In effect, the building reads differently driving down Williams versus walking the opposite direction, simulating a parallax effect. The roof terrace on the top floor of the southeast corner begins to break down the building’s mass and scale, negotiating a transition to its residential neighbors. At the same time, the terrace commands spectacular views of Mt. Hood, while the large west-facing windows capture views of downtown Portland and the West Hills.
Project Location: Portland, OR
Residential Units: 66
Gross Building Area: 44,000 SF
Completion Date: August 2020
Daniel Kaven, Partner-in-Charge
Trevor William Lewis, Partner-in-Charge
Mike Perso, Director of Architecture
Max Taschek, Job Captain
Richard Colwell, Architect
Joel Dickson, Project Designer
Photography by Jeremy Bittermann / JBSA with courtesy of William / Kaven