U.S. Custom House Renovation

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Project Facts

Size
110,000sf

Cost
$4.75 – $18
million

Date
1995 – 2013

Peter Meijer Architect, PC (PMA) has had a long involvement with the U.S. Custom House. Beginning in 1995, Peter Meijer conducted a full programming, infrastructure, and planning study for the long-term continued use of the building as a federal property. At that time, big ideas and novel design solutions were proposed to maintain the structure as an essential facility for government agencies. Open space design, preservation of character defining features, and structural upgrades were blended in an $18 million dollar renovation scheme.

In 2004, PMA formed a development team proposing to convert the U.S. Custom House into an 80 room Historic Boutique Hotel. Availing the opportunities presented by the historic structure, the development proposed a new hotel entry on NW Broadway, the major north/south arterial into downtown, a new glass atrium enclosure off the NW Park Avenue courtyard, a restaurant on the lower level with outdoor dining, a fully landscaped perimeter, and valet parking. While acting as team leader and owner’s representative, PMA also provided historic design services.

After a long public bid process, the US Custom House was acquired by Eastern Real Estate (ERE) in 2010. PMA provided ERE with a successful application to both federal historic tax credit and State of Oregon Special Assessment property tax programs, and conducted a full interior and exterior condition assessment and building envelope analysis. Adding our design expertise to the project, PMA developed new handrail extensions to the Grand Staircase and developed new ADA compatible door lever hardware made from cast bronze.

How do you implement code mandated treatments that minimally impact the historic space?

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Rehabilitation of existing buildings is about Thoughtful Change, a design philosophy based on Research, Experience, and Initiative as a means to achieve design quality. Peter Meijer Architect, PC, (PMA) embraces Thoughtful Change as a fundamental component of our Design, Science, and Preservation Planning services. Research sets the foundation of understanding the original design intent from programming, site orientation, and material selection to design style and context. Our design approach is not limited. We provide new design as a distinct solution or a more deferential approach as required. The diverse experience of our exceptional staff and our proven expertise in understanding a myriad of older buildings, historic construction methods, and familiarity with architectural styles and eras assures a seamless integration of our new work with the existing structure.

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Executing the hardware and railing design required an understanding of the manufacturing and production process. PMA collaborated with Tice Industries to understand the limitations and capabilities of the production process from software tools to machining the parts. PMA worked with Tice to execute the design in materials compatible with the historic character of the US Custom House. PMA studied the machining process and studied various mock-ups to refine the design. Visual qualities were important, but also important were weight, durability, and character. Both on the production line and on site, PMA and Tice collaborated to modify the fasteners, attachments, and connectors to minimize the visual impact and execute the design details.

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