Portland is considered one of the greenest cities and is fast becoming a major player in sustainable fashion, food and culture. But did you know that Portland has historic architecture? It’s true. The famous “Made in Oregon” sign (image above) sits atop the historic White Stag building, built in 1907.
Portland also has people more interested in renovating and restoring the old rather than tearing down and building new. A winning combination.
So when the University of Oregon needed to develop a satellite campus, it chose to renovate the three commercial buildings known as the White Stag Block. Located in Old Town (also known as Portland’s Skidmore District), the buildings – Bickel (image above before renovation), Skidmore and White Stag – formerly housed a china importer, logging machinery company and an outdoor supply company. But after years of sitting unused, all three were in very bad shape, as was the entire neighborhood.
The project of unifying and updating all three building on the inside, yet respecting and embracing the architectural elements on the outside was a daunting one. Significant parts of the facades were missing; one of the buildings had major fire damage; every system was outdated and in disrepair.
But the developers and investors focused on the goal of retaining the separate identities of each space while adhering to LEED-certified standards. During construction they used materials from within 500 miles of the site and 95% of the waste created was recycled or reused.
Other green technologies and elements utilized include: energy efficient heating and cooling systems; non-toxic and sustainable paints, carpets, sealants and woods; low-flow fixtures and a rainwater harvesting system that reduces city water usage by up to 86%; roof insulation; solar energy cells; high-performance windows and weather-proofing all the historic windows (image below).
The result is one of the few buildings in the U.S. that is both on the National Register of Historic Places and Gold LEED-certified. The White Stag Block has also been recognized with a 2010 National Preservation Award. Stephanie Meeks, president of National Trust for Historic Preservation:
“The restoration of the White Stag Block is a triumph in every sense of the word. Long-neglected buildings have become vibrant showplaces, and a formerly rundown neighborhood is a model of preservation, sustainability and community rebirth. What better lesson could a university teach?”
Today the White Stag Block houses the University of Oregon bookstore (The Duck Store), numerous University classrooms (image above), as well as other businesses and special events. It has succeeded in bringing some life back to the historic Old Town neighborhood as well as showcasing advances in green technology.