Boora Architects

People Make Buildings

Arts Centers
Campus Buildings
Civic Buildings
Custom Homes
K-12 Schools
Mixed Use
Planning
Renovation
Sustainability
Workplaces
Bodyvox Dance Center
Collin County Center for the Arts
Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Mesa Arts Center
Old Dominion University - GoodeTheatre
PICA 2004 Temporary Theater
PICA 2005 Temporary Art Center
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Scripps College - Music Building
UC Davis Mondavi Center
University of Oregon - Music + Dance
UT Austin - Bass Concert Hall
UTPB-Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center
Virginia Tech - Integrated Arts Center
Walton Arts Center
Community College of Denver
Dartmouth College Hopkins Arts Center
Earlham College Fine Arts Complex
Earlham College Science Building
Harvey Mudd College - Learning Building
Lewis & Clark College Gregg Pavilion
Michigan State - Cook Recital Hall
Old Dominion University - GoodeTheatre
Oregon State Univ - Classroom Building
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Scripps College - Music Building
Stanford - Knight Management Center
Stanford - Nano Engineering Center
Stanford - Huang Engineering Center
Stanford--BioE-ChemE Building
Stanford - Y2E2 Building
UC Davis Mondavi Center
UC Santa Cruz - McHenry Library
University of Oregon - Music + Dance
UT Austin - Bass Concert Hall
UTPB-Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center
Virginia Tech - Integrated Arts Center
Collin County Center for the Arts
Federal Reserve Bank NW Headquarters
Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse
McMinnville Courts/Council Building
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Vernonia K-12 School
Boles/Kahle Beach House
Boora Beach House
360° House
The Step House
Kitchel Residence
The Tower House
Coastal Residence
Baker Prairie Middle School
Beaverton School District
Central Catholic High School Expansion
Clackamas High School
Crystal Springs Upland School
David Douglas Early Learning Center
Happy Valley Middle-Elementary School
Newberg High School Infill Expansion
St. Mary's Academy Commons Addition
Vernonia K-12 School
Mesa Arts Center
North Pearl District Master Plan
HOYT Block 15 Condominiums
The Encore Condominiums
The Metropolitan Condominiums
Adidas Village (American Headquarters)
Collin County Center for the Arts
Happy Valley Middle-Elementary School
Mesa Arts Center
North Pearl District Master Plan
Stanford Science & Engineering Quad
UC Davis Mondavi Center
Adidas Village (American Headquarters)
Bodyvox Dance Center
Boora's Office Renovation
Lewis & Clark College Gregg Pavilion
Newberg High School Infill Expansion
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Legal Office Tenant Improvement
Scripps College - Music Building
St. Mary's Academy Commons Addition
UC Santa Cruz - McHenry Library
University of Oregon - Music + Dance
UT Austin - Bass Concert Hall
Baker Prairie Middle School
Boora's Office Renovation
Clackamas High School
North Pearl District Master Plan
One Waterfront Place Office Building
Portland State University - Lincoln Hall
Stanford - Knight Management Center
Stanford Science & Engineering Quad
UC Davis Mondavi Center
Vernonia K-12 School
Adidas Village (American Headquarters)
Boora's Office Renovation
Corporate Dining - Japanese Cafe
Corporate Lobby Renovation & Sky Lounge
Federal Reserve Bank NW Headquarters
FINE Design Group
Flexible High Tech Office Design
LEED Platinum Office Improvement
Cloud Computing Offices & Amenities
Legal Office Tenant Improvement
High Tech Human Resources
High Tech Office Redesign
Literary Arts
One Waterfront Place Office Building
The Metropolitan Condominiums

In the fall of 2005, facing the end of a lease in the Morgan Building in downtown Portland, Boora confronted a choice: we could stay in our existing space, which we had occupied since 1990; lease new space elsewhere in the city; purchase a site on which to build a new facility; or purchase an existing building to redevelop as our workplace.

While the design of our studio was forward thinking when created in 1990, by 2005 it needed updating to accommodate an increased emphasis on knowledge-sharing through collaboration; a shift from an informal culture of studios to an intentional culture of unity; a desire for a higher degree of sustainability through environmental performance; changes in workplace technology; and growth in staff size.

We were drawn to the natural light, raw materials, and high volume spaces of loft working environments in buildings adapted for workplace uses from industrial uses.  Yet to find loft-like spaces large enough to accommodate an 80- to 110-person firm, we found ourselves evaluating buildings at a distance from the central city with less access to public transportation, fewer amenities, and higher costs. At the same time that we studied options for relocating our office, we also studied the option of retaining and renovating the space in Portland’s Morgan Building we had occupied since 1990.

The Morgan building is located in the heart of downtown Portland, adjacent to major bike routes, two blocks from Portland's streetcar stop, two blocks from a light rail stop, and one hundred feet from several bus lines. There are few locations in the city where transit density is higher.

Designed in an era without mechanical cooling or reliable access to abundant electric light, the building has operable perimeter windows and two light wells on its south side -- functional elements of the design allowing workplace comfort in the early twentieth century.  The building's many windows also offer views of the outdoors, including vistas of Cascade range landmark Mount Saint Helens.

On top of the realization that transit and amenities were higher in downtown Portland than the other locations we were evaluating, the sustainable properties inherent in the building’s original design led us quickly to the conclusion that the space in the Morgan Building we had occupied for 15 years would house the firm for the next era of its history as well.

After choosing to stay, we next turned our attention to determining whether we could realize in our existing space the qualities that had attrached our staff to loft warehouses elsewhere in the city.

To give every member of our organization access to daylight, natural ventilation, and views, we placed the workstations in the structural bay between the building’s perimeter wall and its first row of columns. With our workstations in this location, daylighting supplies most of the light required in our space during normal business hours. As occupants of the space, we are often struck by how often the lights never get turned on at all, even in winter. As we still need to electrically light the space for it to remain functional on days of low daylight or for use of the space during off hours (early in the morning, late at night, for the occasional all-nighter, et cetera), a mixed-mode lighting system supplements electric light with daylight from the outdoors and high efficiency LED task lights.

We tested a model of our new office design in the artificial sky and the heliodon operated by the University of Oregon’s Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory, where we found that our proposed design provided enough daylight to save most of the annual electric lighting energy needed for ambient lighting during daylight hours – perhaps as much as 90%.  Daylighting could also be used to reduce energy for task lighting.

The artificial sky mirror box simulates the light of the sky while the heliodon models the angle of light between the light source and the scale model in order to simulate the angle of light at the location where the building being modeled is located.

Putting all of the workstation parts on wheels makes each piece easily movable on a moment’s notice with almost limitless possibilities for re-configuration. Additionally, the tables of each work station are height adjustable to improve ergonomics.

While the standard workstation configuration docks all individual workstations to the perimeter wall, the desktop tables were proportioned to allow the work zone to become double-loaded, preserving the option of increasing the staff density in the office.  This high-density configuration has the advantage of reducing the distance between staff members.  Daylighting remains adequate for both tiers of workstations in the high density configuration.

Placing workstations at the perimeter of the studio also gave us ample clear space at the center of the office for other uses. Because of our strong desire for more collaboration space and for a high degree of re-configurability in those spaces, we dedicated all of the interior zone of our space to shared uses. As our work is central to our focus as a firm, so the work is, accordingly, at the center of our space in greatly expanded team working/collaborating spaces.  These spaces range from fully acoustically private conference rooms to open team rooms.

To create a shared commons for our staff, we created a central space which we call the “design lab.” In the design lab,we have located a large shared kitchen, a shared material library, and a shared event space, where we host weekly peer reviews, educational lunch presentations, client fundraising events, design charrettes, all-staff meetings, ping pong tournaments, quiet games of chess, and receptions. The space incorporates a series of large-scale pivoting walls. Using the same ethanol-based, mineral-fiber tack surfaces as in our team rooms, these walls serve as tack panels and projection screens and pivot to support many uses.

Materials were selected for their environmental performance, among other considerations.

Selected publications                                                  

GreenSmart
"Boora revamps office space for platinum LEED rating," April, 2008

Portland Business Journal
"Shining the light on space: The open plan is an important element in sustainable office design,"June, 2008

PortlandArchitecture.com
"Morgan Building strip-down: BOORA's new LEED Platinum office," November, 2008
Awards

International Interior Design Association
Merit Award, 2008

Portland Spaces magazine
Root Award for Lounge Space, 2008