The Radiator

Portland, Oregon | Design: PATH Architecture, Inc. | Construction: Kaiser Group, Inc.

The Radiator, a 5-story office building at the gateway to North Portland, is the first all- timber building of its scale built in a century. The Radiator kicked off a heavy timber building boom in the city, proving the financial viability of building larger buildings in wood and reminding the design and build industries to recall this tried and true construction type. The main priorities of the project were the resuscitation of the Oregon timber industry, a critical part of the state’s economy and heritage, as well as to illuminate the environmental benefit of the carbon sequestration that is inherent in timber construction. In direct contrast to steel and concrete, building with timber actually dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of a building’s construction process.

The Radiator is a natural growth of the neighborhood it was born into. The development in the corridor is primarily mixed-use high density residential. By providing office space, these residents now have the opportunity to work within their neighborhood, creating a more walkable, livable community. Allowing for a diversity of building and program types within a community helps make that community more self-sufficient. The unique neighborhood structures are what make Portland great.

Integrated into this development, in collaboration with the adjoining timber-framed buildings on the site and with Metro, is a public courtyard. This public outdoor space within the site is a great amenity for the residents in the neighborhood, and it also provides an opportunity for the public to learn about timber framing and the opportunities and benefits of building with wood.

The Radiator has a full PV array covering the entire roof of the building, is using LED lights to minimize energy usage, has a tight envelope to reduce infiltration and heat loss, and manages all of its runoff on-site. These strategies, however, have become the baseline standard in Portland. It is time to start pushing the boundaries again. Building in wood in larger, taller structures is moving the conversation of sustainability away from light bulbs and photovoltaic arrays and on to the harvesting and manufacturing of our natural resources into building materials. We have also erected a fully automated exterior fin array on the West face of the building to reduce heat gain and glare. Using today’s technologies in concert with tried-and-true building methods centuries old will push us into the next era of sustainable building.