Hassalo on Eighth is the ultimate revenge of the pedestrian. The project, which broke ground in 2013 and is slated for completion in early 2015, is a multibuilding development of apartments, retail, and offices that largely replaces a parking lot in central Portland, Oregon. Its vision, using the language of a framework developed in Portland, is for an EcoDistrict, which “focuses on the neighborhood rather than the building,” says Kyle Andersen, a principal at GBD Architects. The development—three new buildings and a renovated office—is targeting Platinum certifications under both LEED-NC and LEED-ND ratings and successful implementation of EcoDistrict ideals.
The EcoDistrict idea places emphasis on livability, a value seen in Hassalo’s location amidst a cluster of office buildings while adjoining an established residential neighborhood. Andersen and his team chose to design smaller, more affordable apartments, informed by similar housing in Toronto and Manhattan. With 25,000 jobs in the walkable vicinity, the population influx will support new retail development, including a grocery store. Developers also hope to attract edgier, locally owned shopkeepers to contribute to neighborhood character. “This project takes advantage of all that exists there today to develop a vibrant, diverse community propagated by sustainability,” Andersen says.
Retrofits and Reductions
Each building will use a high-performing envelope to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent when compared to similar buildings, and Andersen says that the retrofit of the 1970s-era office building will reduce its energy use by up to 50 percent. An efficient mechanical system and a water loop capitalizes on synergistic heating and cooling for the retail spaces, and solar-thermal cells on one of the new apartment buildings will preheat domestic water.
Water and Waste
Hassalo takes water conservation to a rare level. The development largely replaces non-absorbent surface parking with a storm-water system that uses an open-air cistern, incidentally demonstrating the natural ebbs and flows of seasons, and vegetated roofs and bioswales also treat runoff. Taking it further, a daily output of 60,000 gallons of greywater and blackwater will be treated on-site with a living machine system composed of three parts: an anaerobic tank, above-grade tidal cells (aerobic treatment via plants), and ultraviolet light exposure. The resulting Level 4 Class A standard water will be reused for landscaping, cooling tower replenishment, and toilets, with excess water going to the aquifer through state-permitted, on-site dry wells.
The only concern raised in planning the development was the potential influx of traffic. But 1,200 new parking spaces will be built underground—remember, this is still a business district—and car-sharing companies, bicycle parking (required by Portland zoning), and access to mass transit are abundant. “We have a bike hub in the lower level of the existing office building,” Andersen says. “Think of this more as a bike valet—you can leave your bike there for repairs and pick it up after work.”
Sense of Place
To the uninformed newcomer, few of these benefits are immediately apparent. What matters, Andersen says, is “to focus on the first 30 feet of the project.” By this he means the close vicinity of what the pedestrians really see, noticing what’s immediately forward and back, up and down. That includes the canopies and entry walls of retail establishments and residential structures. The design team also is installing a gardened public plaza where people can gather, rest, or recharge in the outdoors. The orientation of the district provides for vehicular and active transport, facilitating full integration with the rest of the city—a city that has three additional EcoDistricts planned.