Meier & Frank Building
Meier & Frank Department Store Building
Award Type: Honor Award
With 15 floors and 11 acres under one roof, the Meier & Frank department store in downtown Portland has been an iconic and beloved community landmark for nearly a century. Known by locals as the "terra cotta palace," the building, which commands a full city block, was constructed in stages, starting in 1909 with major expansions in 1915 and 1932. At its peak, Meier & Frank housed everything from a radio station to a pet store, and generations of Portland children treasured annual pilgrimages to the store's 10th floor Santaland with its elaborate kiddie-sized overhead monorail.
In the 1960s, Meier & Frank was sold to May Department Stores, which was later acquired by Federated Department Stores. Faced with increased competition from new retailers, Meier & Frank began shutting down and consolidating its sales space, leaving many floors vacant. City leaders were afraid that it was only a matter of time before the department store would be demolished and the site redeveloped.
When Sage Hospitality Resources expressed interest in using the upper floors of the building for Oregon's first five-star hotel, the Portland Development Commission, the City's urban renewal agency, crafted an innovative financing and tax credits package. Now, after a meticulous $166 million renovation, the historic Meier & Frank building houses "the Nines," a luxury hotel with 331 rooms surrounding a skylit atrium. The basement and first five floors of the building are now home to a renovated Macy's department store, whose bright redesign retains many cherished Meier & Frank features, including the store's iconic oversized clock on the first floor, a popular meeting place for generations of Portlanders.
Beyond reinvigorating the downtown area, the renovation of the Meier & Frank building demonstrates just how closely the green and preservation movements are related. By adaptively reusing the building, the project preserved a historic landmark, kept nearly one trillion pounds of waste out of the landfills and preserved 65 years of embedded energy. The building incorporates high-efficiency elements that save power and water and the hotel uses locally grown food products, green-seal products and renewable energy. In July 2009, the project received Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the US Green Building Council, becoming one of only a small number of hotels worldwide to achieve the designation.
"Thanks to tireless work by an array of public agencies, private-sector partners and visionary architects and consultants, what was once the biggest building in Oregon has been reborn," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The renovation of the Meier & Frank building is a triumph of adaptive reuse, green technology and sustainable historic development."
Along with the Portland Development Commission, co-recipients honored for the rehabilitation of the Meier & Frank building are: Heritage Consulting Group; Sage Hospitality Resources; ForrestPerkins; The Nines; and SERA Architects.