This year's Village Building Convergence (VBC) was a huge success! We would like to highlight some great work parties at our headquarters building in SE Portland, and to thank the volunteers who helped with these fun and informative projects. We installed an planted an espalier fence, we gathered discarded urbanite from a driveway demolition and built an urbanite planter wall, and we painted the roof of our building white to reduce the urban heat island effect (and to keep our 2nd floor office tenants a little cooler this summer). Thanks again for everyone involved! Stop by to check out these projects!
Post by Jason Fifield
Communitecture is very excited to be working with two great organizations that provide so much value to our community:
ROSE Community Development:
25th Anniversary Celebration - May 4, 2017 - Rosette Sponsor
2017 Annual Dinner - Trabajo Sin Muros; Work Without Walls - June 14, 2017 - Presenting Sponsor
ROSE Community Development has been advocating for and providing affordable housing and economic opportunities in SE Portland since 1992. In an era of gentrification and increased housing prices, ROSE provides community ownership that helps to control prices and allows many people in need to have a safe, clean place to live. ROSE's impact has greatly contributed to our city through affordable housing, youth initiatives, support for families and young children, and many other community resources.
Portland VOZ allows for day laborers and immigrants to come together and promote civil rights, fair labor practices, job training, education, and leadership skills. They are a worker-led organization, with the intent of providing workers with the knowledge and experience to obtain long term employment. Additionally, Portland VOZ has created the opportunity for workers to organize and reduce discrimination and wage theft. Portland VOZ represents many who provide valuable and important work throughout our region.
Communitecture is honored to be supporting and working with such wonderful organizations. We hope you will join us at these fundraising events!
The renovations at our new property are nearly complete--we are officially moving in--and you could too! We have a lovely office available to rent to a business or non-profit that compliments our office culture. We are a vibrant community of activists, architects, community builders and volunteers who form friendships at work, share home-cooked meals, garden together, and keep each other inspired to make Portland a better place. The landscape surrounding the office will be cultivated as a permaculture demonstration site. Non-profits, designers, engineers, women-owned and minority-owned businesses encouraged to apply.
The private office is 170 SF, featuring a window, vintage hardwood floors, lovely natural paint, a walk-in closet, and built-ins with a sink. It's in the upper level of two-story converted house. $625/month. Available immediately. One year renewable agreement preferred.
- Utilities included
- High-speed wi-fi and an ethernet port
- 24/7 access
- Security system
- Use of shared conference room
- Shared full kitchen and break area
- Outdoor space w/ gardens and fruit trees
- Sign facing Division Street (at cost to you)
- On the 4 Bus Line; two blocks to the 70 Bus Line; four blocks to MAX Orange Line stop
- Close to restaurants, coffee shops, New Seasons, People's, Ladd's parks
- Cleaning services
- Off-street parking
- Phone line (can be added for monthly fee)
Please note: You must climb a flight of stairs to access your space. The conference room is on the ground floor, but there are a few stairs to enter the building as well.
TO APPLY, email office - at - communitecture - dot - net and include:
- Name of your organization
- Your website and contact info
- Your mission statement or description of your work
- Approximate typical office hours
- Number of people in your organization
- Describe your needs regarding visitors to the office (how many clients/others per week; group meetings or individuals)
- Any questions you may have for us
Post by Jason Fifield
After the State of Oregon removed a ban on inclusionary zoning earlier in 2016, the City of Portland followed with the approval of inclusionary zoning on December 21, 2016. Inclusionary zoning is a policy that requires developers to build a portion of housing units to be sold or rented at a lower rate for low income families and individuals. To offset lower revenues, most jurisdictions allow for other incentives with these projects, such as increased density, lower parking requirements, expedited permits, and subsidies. Prior to the change in Oregon state law, Oregon and Texas were only states in the US that did not allow inclusionary zoning. Over 200 communities in the US have adopted inclusionary zoning in some form.
Beginning in February of 2017 in the City of Portland, developers of multi-dwelling projects of 20 or more units will have two basic options:
1. Provide 20% of the units to residents that make no more than 80% of the region’s Median Family Income.
2. Provide 10% of the units to residents that make no more than 60% of the region’s Median Family Income.
- Developers may choose to pay an additional fee instead of selecting one of these options - Note: The Portland region’s Median Family Income for a family of 4 in 2016 is $73,300
The intent of inclusionary zoning is to allow more diverse neighborhoods to exist, to provide options for low income residents to live in all neighborhoods of a city, and to address the housing crisis by requiring affordable housing to be built along with market rate housing. Many low income families and individuals have benefited from this practice by being able to live in an area of their community that allows them to have access to good schools, transit, and business opportunities.
Portland City Council and many affordable housing advocates have applauded this development, but there are mixed reviews about the success of inclusionary zoning. Critics state that it increases the cost of construction, which will reduce the number of new housing units being built and thus increase the cost of housing. Also, while the affordable housing units in a given development are available at lower costs, the market rate units in the same development are likely to be more expensive to offset revenue losses of the lower rate units. Finally, the housing crisis in Portland is so extreme that the number of affordable housing units built through the inclusionary zoning process is likely to be far less than the demand for these types of units.
Despite these shortcomings, inclusionary zoning is a positive step in the fight against the housing crisis. Through its implementation, many will receive the housing assistance and opportunities they need to advance and make further contributions to our city. Neighborhoods and cities are stronger and more vital when they are inhabited by diverse people and families, which is encouraged by inclusionary zoning. Also, tax exemptions, systems development charge waivers, and other credits will help to subsidize revenue losses to developers. However, inclusionary zoning should not be seen as a complete solution to the housing crisis. Many additional strategies are critically important to provide an equitable and diverse housing market as Portland’s population is expected to increase by approximately 250,000 by 2040.
One additional policy change that provides some of the strongest protection for many of Portland’s residents came as a result of a unanimous City Council vote on Thursday February 2nd. After hearing many hours of testimony from residents, property owners, and other concerned citizens, Portland’s City Council approved a law that requires property owners to pay relocation costs of between $2,900 and $4,500 to tenants when rents have been raised by more than 10 percent or when a no-cause eviction has been issued. This law was approved as part of Portland’s declaration of a housing emergency in 2015. It will be in place until October when the State of Emergency in Housing is scheduled to lapse, although it can be extended past that date.
No-cause evictions often plague long-time residents as neighborhoods are gentrified and pressure builds for property owners to sell and redevelop buildings, so this law will provide much needed assistance. Property owners have also been known to increase rent by extremely high percentages, which often serves as a default eviction since it prices out many residents. Like inclusionary zoning, advocates admit that this law isn’t perfect. But, as pointed out by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly: “This is the only tool the City of Portland has to protect renters and we are using it.”
With many issues coming forward that affect the present and future of housing in Portland, we will keep you updated with the latest developments and insights.
Post by Robin Koch
While there is not one blanket solution to the problem of houselessness in Portland, some of those in need are finding relief in self-made villages. Communitecture's involvement with this effort dates back to the early days, when our principal designer Mark Lakeman was involved in creating Dignity Village fifteen years ago. Today, new iterations such as Hazelnut Grove are growing in to refuges for self-organized groups of people who desperately need a safe place to rest.
Earlier this year, Mark began collaborating with the Village Coalition and the Center for Public Interest Design to engage architects from all over Portland in building new solutions. On October first, a vibrant room full of creative and hopeful minds got together to brainstorm design ideas to shape sleeping pods ranging from 48 to 80 square feet. Architects, activists, and homeless people sat down together with pens and paper to share ideas. From this charrette, fourteen design teams formed and were each awarded a $2,000 grant by the mayor's office to build their designs.
Photos by Julian Dominic
Many of us worked late in to the night over the last three weeks to build our structures in a big old warehouse on the river. As the roof leaked rain drops on to our table saw, and temperatures dropped, City Repair volunteers made sure we had coffee and pizza and encouragement to get us through the long hours. Our friends as well as volunteers we've never met showed up to lend a hand, simply to be part of this important effort.
Since yesterday morning, the pods have been making their way downtown to be publicly displayed over the weekend. Snow and sleet fell as they were unloaded from the truck as a perfect reminder of how important basic shelter is to our fellow Portlanders.
The Communitecture design team consisted of Mark Lakeman, Dylan Thomas, and Robin Koch, joined on the construction site by builder Elwood Johncox. Our design--known as the "doorplex"--exhibits at least three unique characteristics that set it apart from the other pods. Firstly, it's largely composed of repurposed materials including hollow-core doors as walls, metal construction site signs as roofing, and cabinet doors fitted with plexiglass as windows. Secondly, we carved two separate living spaces out of one 64 square foot space by stacking sleeping bunks, each with their own entrance. There are so many people needing shelter this winter that we wanted to push the envelope and shelter more than one. And last, the curved roof shows just how much we care about making this structure special.
See all 14 of the pods arranged in a village layout this weekend at the north end of the NW Park Blocks (511 NW Broadway Ave.) They will be on display all weekend, with a panel discussion at PNCA on Saturday at 11am. A closing reception will be held the following Saturday, December 17th, 11am - 2pm at the same location.
Following the display the pods will be moved to a new homeless village to shelter those who need them most.
Photo by Priti Shah
Photos by Dylan Thomas and Robin Koch except where noted. Rendering by Dylan Thomas.
communitecture ARCHITECTURE | PLANNING | DESIGN creates beautiful and sustainable places that bring people together in community. We are a small firm that is looking for a new member who will help us grow. This is a unique opportunity to work with an acclaimed sustainable firm which attracts like-minded clients focused on low carbon, highly sustainable, communal structures, and place making processes.
We are looking for a highly qualified Project Architect/Project Manager. Candidate should be creative, organized, self-motivated, possess excellent design and technical skills, and be community focused. Individual must be able to multi-task, collaborate with and manage team members, communicate effectively, possess excellent client skills, and work well in a laid back environment. Our office culture includes highly motivated community builders and activists and we are looking for candidates who are fiercely green, passionate about issues of our time, and have a very strong impulse to do something about it through design.
- Bachelors or Masters degree of Architecture
- Architectural license in Oregon (Washington and California a plus)
- Qualified Project Architect/Project Manager
- Professional experience on single family, multi-family, and small commercial
- CPHC – Certified Passive House encouraged but not required
- Active in community outside the office
- Experience with small firm management
- Strong sense of business strategies encouraged
- Can juggle multiple small projects
- Strong leadership skills
- Proficient in Revit, SketchUp, Adobe Suites, MS Office, etc.
- Ability to hand draw schematic design ideas
- Ability to solve complex technical issues and manage construction documentation
- Hands on construction experience encouraged
- Experience writing specifications a plus
- Experience designing and detailing strawbale and/or strawclay construction encouraged
-Manage projects ranging from small residential & small commercial projects to large ground-up housing projects.
-Manage a staff of 2 designers.
-Manage firm operations and staffing.
-Review drawings for constructability, code, and completeness.
This position will begin on a contract basis with opportunity to grow into employment. Salary is negotiable and based on experience.
Please email cover letter, resume, and graphic work samples to email@example.com after exploring more about us on this website.
Post by Robin Koch
One of the most urgent issues in Portland these days is finding a place for everyone to live in an equitable way. It’s heartbreaking to hear of elderly citizens, people with disabilities, and families with children being displaced from their homes, where they may have been paying hard-earned rent for many years, while developers profit from the booming real estate market. The use of land as a commodity has blinded many to what should be the true values and functions of a community. That’s why the City of Portland has been pressuring the state to lift its ban on inclusionary zoning and has recently succeeded.
With the passage of SB 1533 on June 2, 2016, the state allows local governments to use inclusionary zoning and to implement a new 1% construction excise tax to support affordable housing. Portland is on its way to implementing inclusionary zoning later this year and has already passed the tax to fund it.
If you apply for a building permit after this Monday, you will notice a new construction excise tax in the amount of 1% of the project’s value when you pay for your permit. (Note that ADU’s and projects under $100K are exempt.) For many of our clients, this tax will increase project costs by at least a couple thousand dollars, so we wanted to know: What will the tax be used for?
Commercial projects are expected to generate at least $2.5 million per year for the Portland Housing Bureau’s new Inclusionary Housing Fund to support the production and preservation of units at and below 60% median family income. This fund was just created under this bill, to subsidize a zoning ordinance that hasn’t been passed yet, so I haven’t found detailed information on its use.
According to the development activity in the last 5 years, residential projects (1- and 2-family) are likely to pay at least $5.4 million annually toward this tax. In accordance with state-mandated percentages, Portland will allocate 50% of revenue from residential projects for developer incentives for inclusionary zoning, via the Inclusionary Housing Fund. Essentially, as developers create market-rate housing, they will soon be required to create affordable housing as well, and these funds will help make that feasible. 35% of it will support affordable units (like the commercial project revenue). 15% will go to the state’s home ownership programs, which assist with down payments.
We will keep you abreast of the progress as the city develops the inclusionary zoning ordinance over the coming months. We all want to know how this will affect our neighborhoods, our projects, and the future of Portland.
This post is by Taz Loomans. It was originally published on the Blooming Rock blog.
In our private property culture, community property is considered un-American and is akin to socialsm or communism. But despite the national rhetoric of every man for himself and pulling yourself up from the bootstraps, the reality is, we all need each other at the end of the day and we can't go far without the help of our community.
We all need a helping hand sometimes, whether that be because we're just starting a baking business and we can't afford our own commercial kitchen, or because we simply can't afford to buy our toddler the latest toys, just to have her outgrow it in a few months. There are a lot of situations in life where it is better to share resources rather than each and every person buying or paying to use a resource by themselves.
Sharing resources is not only helpful to people, it helps the planet too! Not having to buy your own lawnmower or Vitamix saves on the "things" that are produced, hence saves on virgin materials, transportation, energy and a host of other limited resources that we deplete on a daily basis.
Portland has done a really great job in cultivating community resources to help people in need while at the same time helping the planet. Here are 13 of my favorite. This is by no means a complete list.
1. PDX Toy Library - Toys can be expensive, especially considering kids outgrow them so quickly. Enter the PDX Toy Library. This wonderful little gem is located in Southeast Portland. They provide toys for borrowing for newborns all the way to age 8. If your kids have outgrown their toys, consider donating them to the library for others to enjoy.
2. Kitchen Share - Kitchen Share empowers folks to process, cook and preserve food by providing a kitchen tool library and having skillshare classes on everything from canning to making soups. Not everyone can afford to buy a dehydrator, but with Kitchen Share, you don't need to. You can borrow one for free and give it back. With this resource at hand, you don't have to get discouraged from becoming a food preserver. There are two locations, one in the Southeast and one in the Northeast. Consider volunteering at or donating to Kitchen Share if you no longer have use for your kitchen tool.
3. Tool Libraries - There are four in the Portland metropolitan area, the Southeast Portland Tool Library, the Northeast Portland Tool Library, the Green Lents Community Tool Library and the North Portland Tool Library. These membership-based libraries have an extensive list of tools to help you do everything from installing a raised bed garden in your back yard, putting up shelves in your apartment, to fixing your car. Instead of a trip to Home Depot or NAPA Autoparts, you may consider finding your local tool library instead and participate in the sharing economy.
4. Free Book libraries - There are so many tiny free libraries sprinkled throughout Portland neighborhoods. They consist of some sort of outdoor apparatus to store books out of the rain near the sidewalk that are free to borrow. You can also put books to donate at these free libraries too. This free exchange of books and knowledge shows us that some of the best things in life can be free, if we all work together. Thanks to the advocacy of Mark Lakeman and The City Repair Project, free libraries can be built without a permit now if they are under 6 feet and meet setback requirements.
5. Poetry stands - In the same spirit as free libraries, poetry stands consist of some kind of apparatus to keep a piece of paper away from the rain that shares a bit of poetry with passersby. Running into a poem on your way to the grocery store brings delight and inspiration to your daily life and like a beautiful flower, pulls you out of your drudgery and into a transcendent space - all free of charge. Many poetry stands are well maintained and fresh poems appear on a regular basis.
6. Free boxes - In your travels in Portland, you may see boxes at intersections filled with random stuff. This isn't city mess, it's generosity. When cleaning out your closet or garage and you find things you no longer use or need, you can put it in a free box on the corner of a street for people who may find use in those items to pick up. It's not a regulated or organized effort, but it works really well nonetheless. The range of things you find in free boxes is as wide as the range of things you can buy. You can find very high quality furniture that is discarded for whatever reason, or you'll find a dress with a hole in it. It is always worth a gander though. Free boxes are the embodiment of the saying "one man's trash may be another man's treasure".
7. Portland Community Media (PCM) - Located in Northeast Portland, PCM helps individuals and organizations that want to produce non-commercial media. It provides training, tools and support to produce and broadcast programs. This resource is great for novices and veterans alike and it encourages community media projects by providing equipment and training and makes this kind of media production less of a mystery and more doable. PCM also broadcasts community-produced content on six of its own channels. This community support for media creatives is invaluable. Consider donating to PCM.
8. Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) - The IPRC is a lot like PCM, except for publishing. The IPRC is located in Southeast Portland and it provides tools and resources for folks to produce written and graphic publications. A lot of great zines, books, and other publications have been created that otherwise wouldn't have been thanks to the help of the IPRC. Resources at the IPRC include a letter press studio, a screen printing studio, and a computer lab among other things. Consider volunteering or donating to the IPRC. Organizations like PCM and the IPRC eliminate the gatekeepers that prevent the community from creating media and publications and empowers the everyday person with free or affordable resources to tell their stories.
9. Kitchen Commons - Kitchen Commons works to make commercial kitchens available for community use to help people cook and eat together, and provides a resource for budding food entrepreneurs. Commercial kitchens are a valuable resource and are required by code when feeding the public. They can be very expensive to rent and the Kitchen Commons works with existing commercial kitchen spaces to make them a free community resource. If you have a kitchen that could be utilized for community use, consider registering it with Kitchen Commons. Find current Kitchen Commons partner kitchens here.
10.ADX - ADX is a maker space in Southeast Portland that provides equipment and education for people who want to make things. It has a wood shop, metal shop and a digital design lab that are open to the public. ADX also provides classes on various subjects for makers ranging from woodworking, welding, laser cutting and illustration. And lastly ADX provides creative coworking space for start up creative and maker businesses. Become a member to enjoy and partake in this amazing resource!
11. The Rebuilding Center - The Rebuilding Center provides building supplies at a very affordable price and at the same time keeps used building materials out of the waste stream. The center is based on the idea of people donating used building materials or overstock items for other people to buy and use on their projects. It is a great way to recycle, once again proving the maxim that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Visit the Rebuilding Center store in North Portland and make it your first stop before starting a building project.
12. KBOO - KBOO is a listener-supported, volunteer run, non-commercial radio station in Portland. KBOO strives to be an alternative to mainstream radio and its mission is to provide air time to underserved groups. It broadcasts new and public affairs programming as well as arts, cultural and music programming. Tune in at 90.7 fm in Portland, 104.3 fm in Corvallis and 91.9 fm in Hood River. Consider volunteering or donating to KBOO.
13. Community Cycling Center - The Community Cycling Center's mission is to broaden access to bicycling in Portland and the region. The center has a bike shop in Northeast Portland where you can get your bike repaired, purchase a bike or bike parts, or take maintenance classes. It also puts on a bike camp, provides ways for folks to earn a bike by taking a bike safety and maintenance course, ad runs a Holiday Bike Drive among other programs. Consider volunteering and donating to the Community Cycling Center.
Post by Peter Barich
Last weekend I helped my neighbors paint our intersection at NE Mallory Avenue and Going Street. This project had no client and there was no payment for services rendered. But it’s probably the most important project I’ve completed while working with Communitecture.
I worked with City Repair to organize the day of painting as one of the many place-making events going on around the city as part of the Village Builders Convergence. A lot of energy, time and money went into organizing, preparing and permitting the project. It was taxing. But in reflecting on the whole process I can’t deny the smile that turns up the corners of my mouth at the thought of all the gains.
There’s so much value in neighborhood place-making. When you finish painting an intersection everyone gets the satisfaction of having created a piece of art. Everybody gets to take photos and instagram something cool. Everyone that joins in spends quality time painting with their own two hands of their own volition. Kids learn how to read a flat map of color and engage their noggins in transferring that understanding to some real application. Neighbors meet neighbors they didn’t know existed. Old neighbors reconnect. An awareness of a neighborhood community is fostered. And participation comes from a willingness and a want to make a piece of art that lasts, that others see, that is their own. Individual desires to create a place with art seeds a notion of authorship and responsibility in the neighborhood. And everyone benefits from that.
What I want to point out, though, is that the greatest value is gained by whoever is most involved in the project. I guarantee I’ve benefitted the most out of everyone involved because I was involved throughout the entire process. From meetings with City Repair to meetings with PBOT, from neighborhood gatherings to going door-to-door to rally the neighbors, meeting almost 100 people on the 4 blocks around my house in a matter of weeks, getting to know those folks. If you hold yourself responsible for leading the charge on a neighborhood place-making project you gain the knowledge of every interaction with every neighbor. You learn the histories of those that preceded you. You gain the familiarity of innumerous new friends in your community.
I can’t recommend a more fruitful labor than doing a place-making project in your neighborhood. Work with your neighbors to make your neighborhood yours! Lead the charge if no one else does! You will reap the benefits.
Communitecture and City Repair are moving to a beautiful new office and you could join us! Does your organization need a private office in a great Southeast Portland location? Would you be excited to share space with a vibrant community of activists, architects, and community builders? We form friendships at work, share home-cooked meals, garden together, and keep each other inspired to make Portland a better place. The landscape surrounding the office will be cultivated as a permaculture demonstration site with edible plants. We are seeking professionals who will be excited to participate in this community while nourishing your business or non-profit organization. Designers, builders, non-profits, women-owned and minority-owned businesses encouraged to apply.
We have two private offices available October 1st. They can be rented as a suite (have the whole upper floor!) or separate. We hope to rent to someone in the City Repair or Communitecture community, so please beat the Craig’s List crowd and contact us soon!
Room 1: 170 SF private office with windows plus walk-in closet in upper level of two-story building. $625/month.
Room 2: 155 SF private office with windows in upper level of two-story building. $475/month.
Both available October 1st. One year renewable agreement preferred.
Pictures available upon request (currently being remodeled)
Sign facing Division Street
Utilities and internet
Use of shared conference room as scheduled
Shared full kitchen
Outdoor space w/ patio, gardens
On the 4 Bus Line; two blocks to the 70 Bus Line; four blocks to MAX Orange Line stop
Close to restaurants, coffee shops, New Seasons, People’s, Ladd’s Addition parks
Phone line (can be added)
TO APPLY, email firstname.lastname@example.org and include:
Name of your organization
Your website and contact info
Your mission statement or description of your work
Approximate typical office hours
Number of people in your organization
Describe your needs regarding visitors to the office (how many clients/others per week; group meetings or individuals)
Any questions you may have for us
We design beautiful and sustainable places that bring people together in community. We are absolutely committed to sustainability, while respecting the needs and priorities of all the individuals, families, and communities with whom we work and play.