The Workforce

Portland, OR

Affordable and Innovative Housing

The “Workforce” arose from the property owner’s desires to develop a historic quarter block in Portland’s Old Town district to create meaningful change within an underdeveloped community and to create affordable, market-rate housing for a vibrant Portland workforce. Workforce housing is an underserved segment of the inner Portland housing market, as most studio units’ rent exceeds the recommended percentage of the residents’ income. This disparity between wages and affordable housing provides economic distress for many of Portland’s first-time renters.

Historically, Portland has gained an average of 30,000 people per year over the past two decades, and regional planning experts anticipate that Portland will continue to see an immense need for housing over the next 15 years. This project design puts forth a model to support this housing need without City or State subsidies, thus avoiding some of the red tape that comes with governmental support. The Central Downtown districts expect to see the most extensive job growth over the next 20 years, making this particular project location well situated.

The design team collaborated with Walsh Construction to maximize value through design and construction efficiencies. The unit design is modular to allow variable unit mixes on each floor while maintaining plumbing stack alignment. The 127 units include a mix of unit types, including Studios, One-Bedrooms, and smaller Micro Units ranging from 220 to 242 sf.   To support the efficient construction goals of the project, the Workforce utilizes five-story wood-framed floors over one concrete level, reduced wall corners within the units, designed wall lengths that minimize cuts for gypsum wallboard, and simplified detailing throughout.

The Workforce is designed to activate the ground floor streetscape with a lively shared tenant lounge, community kitchen, rentable workspaces, a shared conference room, and 1,500sf of retail space. The rooftop lounge celebrates the Workforce residents with views of the Willamette River and Mt Hood to the East, downtown Portland’s skyline to the South, and sunsets to the West. The development serves the residents and the City of Portland’s multimodal transportation goals with 177 interior bicycle parking spaces and direct access to transit serving the entire Portland region.