Project: Meier and Frank Building
Architects: Bora Architects & Interiors
Collaborators: Turner Construction, PAE, KPFF, Peter Meijer Architect, O- Lighting Design, Arktura, Made Studio, Absolute Procurement
Location: Portland, Oregon
Size: 200,000 sf core renovation; 23,000 sf interior renovation
Text by Bora Architects & Interiors
The Meier and Frank Building is a landmark centered in Portland’s urban core. Acknowledging the cultural importance and nostalgia felt for it was at the forefront of our design approach in transitioning the first five floors into amenity-rich creative office and active retail spaces.
We drew upon rich exterior character to create modern spaces that are building and era appropriate, rooted in Portland’s distinctive historic context. Terrazzo, stone, plaster, brass, and walnut feature alongside authentic and patched terrazzo, exposed concrete ceilings, and re-discovered stone elevator fronts. Department store shoppers had long used the building’s historic clock as a meeting place – popularizing the phrase ‘meet me under the clock’. This clock was incorporated as a central feature of the lobby and still marks a place for people to meet.
We also honored building history through referential patterns that are expressed through brass details. Terrazzo inlays illustrate phases of building construction and renovations, and the perforated screen hosts a simplified abstraction of a relief found on the building’s terracotta tile cladding. The building’s repositioned brand was then overlaid through wayfinding and feature elements.
A lobby coffee shop serves as an amenity to tenants, with its modern lines and walnut graining differentiate its operation within the space. A lush, deep-blue, 45-foot long sofa anchors the lobby’s central gathering space, while a basement amenities level supports tenants with a multi-use lounge, large meeting room, bike room and robust fitness facilities.
The historic use of the building as a department store resulted in internally focused floor plates that were ringed with stock rooms and window displays. To support the transformation to small-scale retail and office, we opened the perimeter to daylight and re-engaged two historic mid-block entries. Each new entry is marked by a steel and glass canopy, scaled and simply detailed to be respectful of the building’s ornate character.