Are Today’s Outskirts Tomorrow’s Bustling Urban Neighborhoods?

Hillsboro’s Orenco Station invents the anti-suburb.

Three sharp new apartment buildings, with inscrutably marketable names like Vector, Hub9, and the Rowlock, border a tree-dotted plaza. Zipcars zip. Children frolic in fountains. The coffee shops, microbrew tap house, and organic grocery stand within convenient walking (or stumbling) distance. The Platform District, the newest pocket of Hillsboro’s Orenco Station neighborhood, became real last summer, fulfilling a vision of dense urbanity in the last major suburb before the metro area’s west side gives way to farmland: “city” living, 14 miles from downtown Portland.

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A threesome of transit-oriented projects

The Platform District at Orenco Station is a 135-acre transit-oriented development in Hillsboro, Oregon’s fifth-largest city. The TriMet MAX Blue Line light rail connects to downtown Hillsboro, to downtown Portland—14 miles away—and to the airport. It consists of a 5.5-acre public plaza (by landscape architect Walker/Macy) and three mixed-used buildings designed by Leeb Architects: the 343,500-sf Rowlock (shown here), with 255 apartments and townhomes; Hub 9 (124 apartments, 168,000 sf); and the 339,200-sf, 230-unit Vector, which provides the park-and-ride component at the transit stop. The Orenco TOD totals 609 residences and 25,000 sf of retail space.

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On the Boards: YMCA Foster project

A new project in the Lents neighborhood of Southeast Portland aims to provide a unique combination of residential living and professional childcare.

The new YMCA Foster development is a mixed-use project, combining a full-service daycare facility with 48 new apartments intended for workforce housing. The project will ultimately replace the existing aging YMCA facility the currently sits on a trapezoidal shaped piece of property near the junction of Southeast Foster Road and Southeast Holgate Boulevard.

Architect Charlie Baxter is the project lead for Portland firm Leeb Architects. He said the way in which the YMCA property is split between commercial and residential zoning propelled the design and led to the concept of bringing the project much closer to the street than the existing structure. In addition, it also led to the use of sweeping rooflines and other design features that will set this project apart from the rest of the neighborhood.

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The Design Commission has approved the Modera Buckman, a 7-story mixed use development in the Central Eastside. The building, by Leeb Architects for developer Mill Creek Residential Trust, will include 170 residential units and 6,621sf of ground floor retail space. Parking for 74 vehicles is proposed in a below grade parking garage. Long term parking for 255 bicycles is proposed, with 98 spaces in a secure bike room and the remaining spaces provided in the units.

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The Architect's Questionnaire: Robert Leeb

The third installment of the Architect’s Questionnaire features Portland architect Robert Leeb of Leeb Architects, a full service architectural and planning firm founded in 1977. Notable projects included the eight story, 134-unit, Streetcar Lofts building in the Pearl District and the Garage at Station Place, which encloses 413 parking spaces with custom stainless steel and is complete with a large landscaped atrium.

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Orenco Station mentioned in Salon article about building better suburbs

Orenco Station highlighted as an example of bringing sustainable, urban design solutions to the suburbs.

"...And in Portland, Oregon’s new urbanist-inspired neighborhood of Orenco Station, half the residents have reported walking to a local business five times a week. All of this is helping the suburbs’ appeal. As suburbs diversify, they are increasingly attracting not just nuclear families but single millennials who appreciate urban-style amenities and smart development."

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'Platform District' celebrates opening of Hub 9

The revolution is continuing in Orenco.

Last Friday, members of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and other dignitaries gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally mark the opening of Hub 9 at Orenco Station.

Hub 9, a six-story mixed-use building located at 980 N.E. Orenco Station Loop, was developed by the Holland Partner Group, a Vancouver, Wash.-based real estate investment company.

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Photos: Apartments rising near river in Pearl District

Work is under way on the Riverscape apartment buildings on the northern edge of the Pearl District along Northwest Front Avenue. The apartments range from studios to two-bedrooms and were designed by Leeb Architects. Amenities include kayak storage and an access ramp to the nearby Willamette River, as well as high-end finishes, a clubhouse, fitness facility, rooftop deck, and kayak storage.

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AISC Ideas - National Winner
Northwest Construction Best Public/Private Design Award
Office of Neighborhood Involvement, Public Safety Project Award
International Parking Institute's 2006 International Parking Awards, Honorable Mention
Home Depot's National Grant for Sustainability
Masonry & Tile Institute of Oregon, 2005 Hammurabi Merit Award
City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development Best Award for Sustainable Storm Water Management
NAHB Multi Family, Pillars of the Industry Award, Finalist Best Affordable Apartment Community
NAHB Multi Family, Pillars of the Industry, Best Loft Development
Northwest Construction Best Public/Private Design Award
Builder’s Choice, Grand Award
Governor's Livability Award
Downtowner Magazine: Best Architect of 1992
Masonry Institute; Hammurabi Award
National AIA, First Honor Award
Portland Chapter, AIA Award