Multi-Use Portland High-Rise Blends Old with New

Sustainable design of new multi-use high-rise in Portland helps building achieve LEED certification

The saying “everything old is new again” could be used to describe downtown Portland's latest mixed-use high-rise facility. Part of the 1-acre Ladd Block in the city's cultural district, the 23-story Ladd Apartment Tower not only features a wealth of modern and eco-friendly elements, but it also incorporates the 126-year-old Ladd Carriage House, a historic Portland landmark that now sits atop the tower's 4-level underground parking garage.

“Helping to prevent the carriage house from demolition certainly made this project unique for us,” says Dave Granlund, project manager for Bergelectric's Portland-based office, Ladd Apartment Tower's design-build firm. “Before construction could even begin, the 350-ton house had to be moved three blocks to an empty parking lot, where it was stored for the next 18 months while we finished work on the high-rise.”

Completed last spring, the 333,750-sq-ft complex comprises 332 luxury apartments, retail shops, a health club, indoor and outdoor lounges, parking garage, and administrative offices/social hall for nearby property owner First Christian Church. In addition, the structure is built to LEED Gold specifications.

“The building employs energy-efficient lighting systems,” notes Granlund. “This includes the use of dimmers and sensors as well as the widespread use of T8 ballasts.”

In addition, the facility contains other sustainable features, such as a 6,623-sq-ft green roof planted with native vegetation, exterior lighting designed to reduce light pollution of the night sky, and a Zipcar service (a car-sharing program that provides automobile rental to its members, billable by the hour or day). Furthermore, 70% of the building's energy usage will be offset through the purchase of renewable energy credits from sources such as wind and solar power.

Although it was completed on schedule, the project was not without challenges.

“Initially, the building was slated to be only 21 stories high and house 189 condominiums,” says John Nason, Berg's northwest regional manager. “When the economy slowed, the owner decided to modify the condos into apartments. Needless to say, this was a major change that took a decent amount of redesign on our part.”

To keep construction on track, Berg took advantage of its prefabrication abilities, initiated coordination between the various trades on a daily basis, and made extensive use of CAD drawings.

“Constructing a high-rise in a downtown area is always challenging,” remarks Granlund. “Material handling and delivery are difficult. Ladd Tower gave us a chance to apply lessons learned from electrical installations on several other high-rises in downtown Portland.”

For example, Berg crews tied permanent wiring in the parking garage to temporary lighting, which resulted in the product being installed early and also provided sufficient lighting for the work of other trades.

Once construction of the tower was completed, the Ladd Carriage House was returned to its original home, at which time Bergelectric installed a new electrical service, power for an elevator, and a fire alarm system.

“This project was a win-win situation for Portland,” says Granlund. “Not only does the community have a building that is beautiful as well as green, but it also still has an important piece of the city's past.”

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