In Northwest Portland, two former industrial structures have been given a new lease on life as Redfox Commons, a light-filled campus for creative, tech and retail workspaces. Local design practice LEVER Architecture led the adaptive reuse project that spans 60,000 square feet and is split between a west wing and a larger east wing across two floors. The architects reclaimed over 6,500 linear feet of timber and combined the salvaged material with new industrial-inspired elements — such as weathering steel cladding and ribbon windows — to pay homage to the building’s history. 

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aerial view of two wood industrial buildings in a city setting

Located in the up-and-coming neighborhood Slabtown, Redfox Commons comprises two repurposed industrial buildings that were originally built in the 1940s for J.A. Freeman & Sons, a manufacturer for hay baling and hay handling equipment. The new adaptive reuse development, completed in 2019, helps to catalyze neighborhood growth while highlighting the historic and environmental significance of the old growth wood used in the local architecture. New, 80-foot-wide clerestory windows draw light deep into the building and bring the eyes upward to the preserved wooden framework.

Related: A heritage industrial site becomes a dreamy wilderness retreat in Australia

people walking into entrance with glass wall and wood support beams
long wood walkway leading to open doorway under a wood ceiling

The original lumber has been preserved and restored throughout the renovation process. Existing trusses were sand-blasted and left exposed to add to the industrial interior design. Wood from an overbuilt mezzanine that was torn down was repurposed in a new timber and glass entrance structure that connects the campus’ east and west wings.

wood-beamed ceiling over open office spaces
people standing outside glass atrium

“The reclaimed boards were fasted around a new glulam member using large wood screws to create the entrance structure’s distinctive columns and beams,” the architects noted in a project statement. “Innovative use of wood salvaged on-site creates a welcoming entry to the campus that is expressive of the project’s heritage and of environmentally conscious design.”

+ LEVER Architecture

Photography by Jeremy Bitterman via LEVER Architecture