Centennial Mills re[CYCLE]d


Centennial Mills re[CYCLE]d


Gabrielle Steffel
University of Oregon


Ihab Elzeyadi
University of Oregon



This project demonstrates mastery and understanding of all ten measures and maturity beyond its years. The architecture is wonderfully understated, and it shows an impressive amount of restraint and sophistication. The project is an outstanding example of adaptive reuse. It makes connections to the larger urban context beyond the property line and starts to address place-making next to the river in a strong way. It is an inviting space that the community would appreciate.


Centennial Mills re[CYCLE]d is a revitalization project of an abandoned site. Located along the Willamette River, the project site is at 10th Ave and NW Naito Pkwy.  Bookmarked between housing and offices, re[CYLCE]d focuses on retail. The program includes: a restaurant (3,851 SF), bar (1,655 SF), greenhouse (2,310 SF), brewery (7,000 SF), recreational retail of boat rental, bike rental and repair (23,255 SF), 8 small local retail shops (8,191 SF), an anchor store (3,850 SF), a small design office (3,085 SF) and a north and south park.  The total site square footage for the site comes to 107,695 SF. Overall the development follows a ‘closed loop system’ in which the retail businesses depend on one another, and the system overall is self-sustaining. The spent grain from the greenhouse is used in the bakery; the greenhouse produce is used in the restaurant, etc. In addition, the project incorporates green roofs, connecting a north and south park. The project is the final connecting park in a series of park blocks which reach from downtown Portland to the Willamette River. The project creates a destination for the city of Portland, activating the river and refurbishing a neglected site.

[Measure 1] Design and Innovation:
One of the program’s key sustainable features is adaptive reuse. The Feed Mill on the site was first constructed in 1928 and remains a significant architectural feature, embodying the mill’s historic significance. The Feed Mill has stood vacant and decaying for 15 years, the last milling operations happened there in 2000. In re[CYCLE]d, the Feed Mill will be revamped and brought back to life. This building will become the location for the taste room and brewery as well as a greenhouse on the two upper levels. Because the site sits between housing and offices, there was a good opportunity to create retail and recreation that would be utilized by the many people living and working nearby. By making a program for the retail in which all the businesses sustain each other, the location is able to retain business.  The spent grain from the brewery is used in the bakery, the bread from the bakery is used in the restaurant, the herbs and produce from the greenhouse are used in the restaurant, the beer from the brewery is sold in the anchor retail and within the bar, the river enables the boat rental, and the bike and boat rental provide constant business to the repair shop

[Measure 2] Regional/Community Design:
Following 10th Avenue there are a series of park blocks leading to the site. Jamison Square leads to Tanner Springs Park, followed by Fields Neighborhood Park across NW Naito Pkwy to the re[CYCLE]d site. The re[CYCLE]d project includes a pedestrian bridge over NW Naito Pkwy, creating pedestrian access to the river. The re[CYCLE]d project also incorporates a north and south parks with green roofs, connecting them. The re[CYCLE]d site is in the heart of the Pearl District, in downtown Portland and serves as the final park in the series of parks leading to the Willamette River. In addition to a becoming a park space with the accessible green roofs and park space, it brings recreational retail to an active city. The Pearl District scored a 97 walk score, 85 transit score and a 97 bike score. The re[CYCLE]d site will revamp the water’s edge by connecting a bicycle greenway that already runs along the river and adding boat and bike rental along that greenway. Currently the greenway has to go around the Centennial Mill’s site, but re[CYCLE]d will keep it moving along the water’s edge, through the site. Portland is known for appreciating nature and the outdoors, and re[CYCLE]d encourages this mentality.

[Measure 3] Land Use and Site Ecology
Local ecology is first enriched on the site with the greenhouse. The greenhouse is composed of local produce and herbs which then are sold to the restaurant on site. The greenhouse is facing south for the best daylighting. The emphasis on all the green roofs and parks, demonstrates the concern for air quality and enabling wildlife in this previously industrial location. When researching depleting resources near the site, several plants were selected to be incorporated in the landscaping. Howell’s daisy, Kincaid Lupine, Nelson’s Checkermallow and the Willamette Daisy are all plants that are endangered in Portland. These specific plants were sought out to find a place on the site. The site is also the location of the Tanner Creek Outfall where 165 million gallons of storm water is removed from the water. The building is designed around Tanner’s Creek so that it remains undisturbed and functioning even as a new building is constructed above it. The creek is crucial in protecting the wildlife which depends on clean water.

[Measure 4] Bioclimatic Design
Using IES, it was clear that the building should be facing south to utilize daylight for heating and cooling needs. However, a struggle was that the building needs to orient west for the retail shops to land along the busy, active Naito Pkwy. To address this concern, the building was separated from one large rectangle mass to two separate masses. One mass aligns with Naito Pkwy and the existing street, and the other mass breaks away and angles in such a way that it is able to get more south sun. This part of the building has individual retail shops, and it is rotated 30 degrees south for more direct light. The west facing Façade has long vertical fins for the western face and horizontal louvers are on the faces that orient south. The sun levels of the retail shops angled south were proven to have improved lighting levels.

All of the green roofs also incorporate skylights. There is a skylight in each of the local retail shops, and they are shaped as scoops pointed towards the south. They also have reflectors which direct the daylight into the space, significantly improving the daylighting conditions. In addition, this allows for more of the spaces to be day lit during occupied hours, bringing that percentage to 92%.

[Measure 5] Light & Air
For the re[CYCLE]d site, the river was the main feature used to framing views. With the sloping green roofs, the buildings are entirely able to focus each level towards the river. This provides occupants with a constant view of nature and the parks, with 86% of the buildings having views to the outdoors. Even with all glazing for views, the building still follows MEEB Table F.1 Design Guidelines for Passive Solar Glazing Area. Portland’s area of solar glazing as ratio of floor area should range 0.13 – 0.26. According to the calculations of the building’s total glazing area 22,750 SF and the total floor area is 87,495. Therefore the area of solar glazing as a ratio of the floor area is 0.26.

The retail shops are able to individually control cross ventilation in their shops because each has garage doors that can completely open when the shop is in business. With a wet bulb of 67 and a dry bulb of 85, the psychometric chart demonstrates that Portland should utilize natural ventilation to passively cool the building. Further there are many windows, allowing for a very high percentage of operable windows, calculated at 86%. In the adaptive reuse Brewery/Greenhouse, the redesign utilizes the existing atrium for stack ventilation. The stack ventilation allows the building to passively cool in the summer months.

[Measure 6] Water Cycle
Considering rainwater harvesting and filtration is an important aspect of the Portland location because the city usually gets 42 inches of rainfall a year, 5 inches above the US average. With the site being located close to the Willamette River, it is important that rainwater runoff be monitored. To prevent contaminating the river, the building has 79% of the storm water being managed on site. The high percentage is because nearly all the building roofs are green roofs, and all the walkways are permeable reclaimed wooden boards. The total green roof area of the site is 31,541 SF. The total permeable paver area is 37,789 SF. There is only one building on the site that does not have a green roof, this is the adaptive reuse Feed Mill on the site. This building’s roof is 4200 SF in area. In addition, there is a north and south park on the site, and they contribute to 33,540 SF of the grass on the site which manages the storm water. Finally there are several rainwater retention ponds which contribute a site area of 134 SF. These ponds allow the water to be stored for uses like watering the plants in the green house.

[Measure 7] Energy Flows and Energy Future
The site uses a renewable geothermal heating and cooling system. This system is a closed loop system connection in a series. According to Climate Consultant the most consistent temperature is at 55 F when the soil depth is at ~13 feet. The trenches used for the geothermal system will range 4 feet wide to 3-6 feet deep. Each Earth Loops consists of 350’ of 5/8” OD soft copper tubing. Air ducts carry supply and return air from Earth Loops.  In addition the cross ventilation in the local retail stores and the stack ventilation in the Feed Mill help to passively cool the project.

According to Energy Star the project would fall under the Retail Store use and score a target of 75. The total Design Target EUI is 140.3 and the site EUI is 52.

[Measure 8] Materials and Construction
The Feed Mill on the site is one of the most prominent existing buildings due to its height, materials and industrial character. The redesign of the Feed Mill allows it to keep its existing concrete foundation, basement, and reinforced concrete walls. All programming will remain in the historic, existing exterior pilaster shell. The interior structure will need to be steel reinforced. While existing shell and structure is left intact, where the greenhouse is added, more glass will be necessary to allow daylight to penetrate to the plants.  The project materials will have the same rustic, industrial look of what was previously on the site. This will allow for a lot of reclaimed, recycled materials to be put to use. While the project calls for tearing down the existing warehouse that stands were the retail shops will go, as much material as can be saved and reused will. All the garage doors for the individual retail shops will use the reclaimed, rustic metal panel that was part of the previous building. The shading devices along Naito Pkwy will be rusted corten steel to match the industrial materials. A particular concern will be having glass that has a low SHGC but allows for clear vision.

[Measure 9] Long Life, Loose Fit
With eight small retail shops, there is flexibility for local entrepreneurs to use those spaces. The shops’ occupants can adjust based on local needs and economics. In addition, the’ closed loop system’ caters to the site and makes it self-sustaining. The project is called re[CYCLE]d because of the cycle and loop which allows the site to rely on itself. The businesses are working toward the collective good of the whole, and the success of one is dependent upon the success of another. The green roofs, in combination with the north and south parks, encourage wildlife and plants to thrive and adapt based on the climate. Further, because the retail is strategically placed between offices and apartments, the site is certain to have a constant filtration of people. Further with a variety of retail types, the site is a destination for multiple needs and uses. With diverse means of reaching the site, by bike along the greenway, by walking over the pedestrian bridge from Field’s Park, and by car down Naito Pkwy, there are plenty of access points to bring people to the site.

[Measure 10] Collective Wisdom and Feedback loops
The adaptive reuse aspect of this project was particularly challenging, but also rewarding. This process required a special study and survey of the existing space measurements. This required a lot of editing. However, it is rewarding to see a historic, old building be revitalized and reused. Another important learning curve was retail restrictions and studying how successful retail works. The project would need thriving businesses for re[CYCLE]d to last. To prepare for this, a large study of existing businesses in the area was completed. This clarified what would be competition and also what types of businesses Portland was interested in. Past projects have taught me that this is an important part of determining programing. A post occupancy study would be studying the shading devices and if all the skylights are effective. All the calculations and energy modeling can teach a lot, but it is also about the feeling and atmosphere of the space. Taking this into the future, I learned just how complex energy modeling can be, and I am concerned with how we can make it easier to navigate and understand.