Apr 28, 2015

COLAB Architecture Makes an Addition to the Ankeny Lofts

There is no denying the current development boom across the Northwest, especially in urban areas throughout Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland. It seems like every other street is brimming with cranes, construction, and story after story of new apartment buildings and housing developments. Some are, frankly, nothing new—that same old big-box, little-character look. Others, however, are hitting it out of the park with interesting designs and savvy details.


Last year, COLAB Architecture + Urban Design (with offices in Portland and Los Angeles) finished an addition to the Ankeny Lofts—a residential urban infill project on Portland’s eastside that introduced a unique development pattern to the block by locating one building at the street front edge of the property and another at the rear of the site, with a courtyard separating the two buildings. The designers continued the pattern with Ankeny 2+3, which consists of four modern duplexes efficiently sited on two 25’x100’ parcels adjacent to the first phase of the project (Ankeny 1), which was completed in 2011.

Units were designed to maximize natural lighting and provide residents the option and flexibility to use them as live/work spaces. There is a mix of studios and one bedroom units, with varying amenities such as private decks and courtyard gardens, green roofs, and secure indoor bicycle parking.

A walkway separates the two street-facing buildings, leading to a courtyard and providing access to the buildings at the rear of the block. According to COLAB founder Mark Engberg and his business partner Jeff Gersh, who designed and developed the project, “the design intent for the programming was to create a vibrant live/work environment that was occupied day and night.” Five of the units are already occupied by small businesses.

“Combined with the adjacent developments, Ankeny 1+2+3 creates a unique model for urban development,” notes Engberg. “As duplexes, the buildings were permitted under the residential code, reducing cost. The location, along a busy bicycle corridor and notable restaurant district, has helped attract a diverse blend of commercial and residential tenants creating a vibrant community within the interior walkways and courtyards of the block.”

As the PNW attracts more and more people from around the country, the development boom doesn’t show signs of tapering off anytime soon. We’ve always known that our summers, our proximity to nature, and the innovative zeitgeist of the region have been big draws for out-of-towners, but as more projects like COLAB’s Ankeny Lofts pop up, architecture are design are moving up the list as well.


Common exterior spaces encourage interaction and engagement between residents and tenants. The walkway surfaces are permeable pavers with garden spaces. 

A wood sculpture wall in an exterior common area is by Oregon College of Art and Craft professor KarlBurkheimer. The dark materials (seen to the left of the sculpture) occur throughout the project and are either painted cement panels or painted metal panels.   

The exterior cladding is mostly clear tongue and groove cedar. The designers wanted the exterior spaces to have a warm Northwest feel, with clean, contemporary lines. 

 A kitchen in one of the duplexes features ceramic glazed tile flooring and zebrano plastic laminate cabinetry, providing a neutral, modern slate for furnishings and d├ęcor.


Mailbox detail set in wood sculpture wall by Karl Burkheimer. 

Images Courtesy of Darius Kuzmickas, KuDa Photography.

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