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Case Study

One North Office BuildingsOne North Office Buildings

One North Office Buildings

Can you design a building to reflect community values? How do you translate a mission focused on energy efficiency and waste reduction into a physical structure? How can you connect building tenants with their neighbors? One North, a three-building office development in Portland, Oregon, found answers to these three questions—with innovation, vision and ingenuity. And engineered wood stands tall in the center of it all.

One North is comprised of three multi-story timber-framed office buildings called The Radiator, One North: East Building and One North: West Building. The three structures surround a large 14,000-square-foot courtyard, open to the street for use by both tenants and neighbors. One North differentiates itself in a number of ways, said Ben Kaiser, project architect and developer from the Kaiser Group. “We started with the goal to have three buildings that shared resources for the benefit of the block. The courtyard was designed to be a community space, given back to the neighborhood."

Sustainable Focus

In addition, the developers wanted the buildings to have a strong sustainability focus. The team chose glulam to frame the structures to take advantage of the beams’ carbon-sequestration capabilities. The glulam framing, which was left exposed to the interior, also met the aesthetic goals of the finished space. Wood’s natural insulating qualities help keep energy use extremely low—much lower than the standard for similar commercial buildings. The exteriors of the One North: East and One North: West Building structures were padded with three inches of insulation to optimize energy performance; The Radiator utilizes two layers of DensGlass® outside and batt insulation on the interior cavity. All three structures use solar panels and LED lighting throughout. Operable windows allow natural ventilation during warm months, and fins on the west face of one building even track with the sun during the day to provide shade. The development was designed to help attract environmentally-minded, creative firms who appreciate the open floor plans and high ceilings in each structure.

Project SpecsRadiator Building—Portland’s first five-story wood office building in a century

The Radiator (named because the designer wanted the structure to radiate out into the community and invite people in) is a 36,000-square-foot, five-story timber-framed structure. The Radiator is touted as the first five-story office building in Portland to be framed with timber during the last 100 years. The L-shaped structure features exposed Douglas-fir glulam beams and columns, as well as T&G cedar decking.

“The Radiator kicked off a heavy timber building boom in the city, proving the financial viability of building larger buildings in wood, and reminding the design and build industries to recall this tried-and-true construction type,” said Kaiser. “The main priorities of the project were the resuscitation of the Oregon timber industry, a critical part of the state’s economy and heritage, as well as to illuminate the environmental benefit of the carbon sequestration that is inherent in timber construction. In direct contrast to steel and concrete, building with timber actually reduces the carbon footprint of a building’s construction process.”

WoodWorks provided technical support to the designers, and The Radiator recently won the organization’s 2016 Multi-Story Wood Design award.

One North: East and One North: West Buildings— purpose-built for energy efficiency

The two adjacent structures, named One North: East Building and One North: West Building, were also designed to push the accepted standards for energy efficiency in commercial construction in Portland. Cory Hawbecker from Holst Architecture said both buildings are modeled to perform 50 percent more efficiently than an average office building. “Our sustainability strategies included exterior shading, a super-insulated, airtight building envelope, use of wood for the structure and use of sustainably-harvested cedar wood siding, which was locally sourced.”

One North Office Buildings

Hawbecker said much of the vision for the One North: East and One North: West Buildings came from the developer, Eric Lemelson of Karuna Properties II, LLC. “Eric is interested in climate change and in helping people and society adapt. So, we wanted to create a model for an energy-efficient project that could also be built responsibly. Eric was particularly interested in the wood structure and the wood cladding; he didn’t want to see us use steel or concrete because wood is a much better construction material from a sustainability standpoint. He also wanted this to serve as a replicable financing model.” Wood’s affordability advances that goal.

Read more about the project in APA Case Study: One North Office Buildings, Form S120.