Flatworks Building (TVA Architects)
Robert Thompson is one of the lions in Portland’s contemporary architecture world. As a founding partner and principal of TVA Architects, he leads a large firm with a long history of designing sleek, modern buildings with lots of glass and metal finishes.
In Portland, his firm did the Fox Tower (27n stories), Park Avenue West (30 stories) and the John Ross condominium (32 stories). In Beaverton, TVA designed the Nike World Headquarters. In Eugene, the Matthew Knight Arena. You get the idea. Big, new, fancy stuff.
A bystander was curious to see how Thompson and TVA would react to an unusual project for the firm as it went about preparing plans for an eight-story, half-block building that will replace a parking lot in the East Portland-Grand Avenue National Historic District. It is a little-known, narrow district running along the Grand Avenue spine where contributing buildings date from 1883 to 1930.
TVA’s assignment was to design a building that would fit into the context of its historic neighbors without giving the impression of mimicking something "old." The developer-client is a firm headed by Vanessa Sturgeon, who was involved in the Fox Tower and Park Avenue West projects designed by TVA. Sturgeon's presence suggests new investment interest in what has been a sleepy neighborhood for many years.
Dotted line shows district boundaries. Contributing buildings in red. (TVA Architects)
Thompson’s presentations were professional and direct, as usual. Perhaps the only glitches occurred when he referred to the district’s high-rise Weatherly Building a couple times as the Waverly (as in Waverly County Club). A minor slip, if you will.