LMN Architects celebrated the completion of the Oregon Convention Center renovation and plaza on October 21th, 2019. The design leverages the attributes of the original convention center while incorporating architectural gestures to enhance the existing ballroom, key public spaces, and the exterior plaza. Key to this project’s success is Western Partitions Inc. 

For those of you unfamiliar with this W&C Top 50 honored company, WPI performs metal stud framing, drywall and finishing, insulation, firestopping, acoustical and wood ceilings, weather barriers, plastering, spray applied fireproofing, intumescent fireproofing, exterior cladding systems, fiberglass and vinyl windows, doors, frames and hardware, commercial painting, industrial painting, load bearing framing systems, prefabricated wall and building assemblies. That’s a great deal of service. The company is headquartered in Portland, Ore., but also has an office in Eugene, Ore.,; Seattle and Spokane, Wash.; and Reno, Nev. The company has been in business for 45 years. 

For this project, the contractor was contracted to install ceiling systems throughout the convention center. 

Architectural Interventions
In response to Portland’s rapidly developing Lloyd neighborhood where the Oregon Convention Center is located, the renovation of the facility’s original building reinforces circulation and wayfinding, transforms the Oregon Ballroom and connects the user experience to its place. Strategic architectural interventions incorporated into the daylight flooded spaces leverage the attributes of the existing building to a new level of experience. Redesign of the primary building entry and adjacent exterior spaces carry the enhancements into the public realm, upgrading the entrance sequence to the building and providing an inviting civic space.

Craig Stroud, Oregon Convention Center Executive Director, commented: “LMN Architects masterfully brought the beauty of Oregon’s landscape inside the walls of the Oregon Convention Center in a manner that could be artistically and aesthetically implemented into our spaces. Identifying natural elements and reflecting them throughout the center’s interior was no small feat and couldn’t have been accomplished without the extensive experience of LMN’s team of architects and designers on other national convention center projects.”

Central to the 305,000 square foot interior improvements was the goal to create a stronger relationship between the convention center experience and the natural environment of Oregon. Evergreen forests and lichen growth on stones are references throughout the renovation with punctuations of hue and pattern that enhance wayfinding in the multi-level configuration of the building. Flooring is composed in a pattern referential to white lichen on gray stones and vibrant hues replace the white highlights at areas of punctuation; red at exhibit hall and meeting room entries and yellow hues at informal meeting and seating areas that also feature regionally harvested alder wood benches.

Wendy Pautz, LMN Design Partner, commented: “Our vision was to create an interior intervention focused around the Pacific Northwest with a robust nature influence evocative of Oregon’s lush greenery. Using distinct textures and patterns reflective of naturally occurring elements in the region, we were able to transform one-dimensional spaces into a vibrant convention center uniquely expressive of its surroundings.”

Punctuations of hue and pattern also serve as a strategy to overcome the split-level configuration of the building. Red hue and wall coverings at the exhibit hall entries feature large-scale patterns that reference the experience of walking through the heavily wooded forests dominant in Oregon and provide better visibility of the below grade exhibit halls from building entries. Large scale internally illuminated wayfinding pylons glow as landmarks within the large volume interior spaces. The updated wayfinding strategy clarifies destinations using alphabetical designations and a simplified map.

The Oregon Ballroom and prefunction space continue the themes developed in other functional spaces. The prefunction ceiling is a custom fabricated topography of the Cascade Range, spanning from Mt. Hood to Crater Lake. The ballroom ceiling features an integrated lighting system with a three-dimensional pattern of circular elements referencing the experience of walking under an illuminated tree canopy.

Western Partitions installed Atmosphera ceiling systems, a line that brings cutting-edge beauty to architecture and interior design. With an attachment system that allows for the tailored configuration of morphing fins and baffles, Atmosphera can adjust to base building elements while achieving specific design visions and effects. The ceiling contractor was chosen because of its proven track record throughout the Pacific Northwest. The company is a member of the NWCB. 

Jeramie Shane, Mayer/Reed Principal, commented: “The renovation allowed us to create a welcoming outdoor environment for people to gather and enjoy activities, large and small within a new plaza, hospitality terrace and amphitheater. The site offers space for casual relaxing, as well as outdoor events like car shows, exhibits and concerts.”

Wendy Pautz, LMN Design Partner, commented: “The Oregon Convention Center is prominently positioned close to the Willamette River and Portland’s urban core, and the renovation reflects the local culture, history and the city. Blurring the edge between the interiors and the community with materials and strategic architectural interventions, our team designed contemporary spaces that allow the public to circulate through shared environments that are open beyond the center’s walls to offer delegates an immersive experience that makes them feel like a local.