Portland, Oregon, USA
Designed and engineered to last 500 years, the PAE Living Building by ZGF Architects is the first developer-driven and largest commercial urban Living Building in the world.
The building marries the look and feel of its historic context in Portland’s Old Town District with the highest possible building performance and sustainability standards.
A custom network of integrated mechanical systems delivers superior levels of occupant comfort and productivity while using less energy, water, and material than comparable buildings.
All the PAE Living Building’s needs are met via onsite water capture and offsite and onsite solar arrays that generate 110% of the energy necessary to operate the building.
As one of the first buildings in Portland to install a PV-powered battery storage system with a two-way connection to the city grid, the office gives energy back to the city it calls home.
In accordance with LBC standards, the building’s water needs are met via rainwater capture and treated onsite.
A 71,000-gallon cistern holds rainwater, and a multistory-vacuum-flush toilet system transforms waste into a nutrient-rich resource.
The aesthetic appeal and sustainability approach of the PAE Living Building is rooted in simplicity, allowing nature to do what it does best.
It’s through a shared dedication to honoring nature that the design team delivered a project where every component can positively impact people and the planet.
Water captured on ground-level canopies, which cover the sidewalks, is channeled into the planters to provide sustenance for plants.
Operable sliding windows allow the interior environment to fully open to the exterior on the east and south façades, drawing in fresh air and light.
A “decoy” on the top floor of the building is the social heart of the building, combining the benefits of the view one would get from a rooftop deck with the added water protection of a balcony.
Exposed mass timber beams provide a sense of warmth while also making up the structural core of the building and reducing embodied carbon emissions by 30%.
Simple and clean concrete floors conceal a complex array of mechanical systems.
Healthy material selections – including 100% Red List Free materials— daylighting, biophilic, and ventilation strategies support a productive, healthy workplace.
The thoughtful consideration of how air, water, and sun travel throughout the facility works to nurture both the structure and occupants equally.
The culmination of these efforts is a modern office building that references the past yet provides an aspirational roadmap toward the future.
Project: The PAE Living Building
Architects: ZGF Architects LLP.
Client: PAE Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Photographers: Benjamin Benschneider, Lara Swimmer, and Jamie Goodwick