Have you heard about Mississippi? It’s a construction project brought to life by Waechter Architecture after more than 10 years of planning and investigation. This building isn’t just your ordinary structure; it’s a game-changer in terms of sustainability and creativity.

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A stretch of buildings on a street at night

You can find Mississippi in the vibrant Mississippi Avenue District of Portland, standing as an example of sustainable and sensitive infill development. The architects aimed to balance the individuality of the structure with its role in the community. They wanted it to be flexible, yet permanent, in order to future-proof it and allow for a new model of green design.

Related: Tallest mass timber building in Denver breaks ground in 2023

A inner seating area outside of a building

What sets Mississippi apart is its pioneering use of mass timber construction for all parts of the building. It’s the first commercial project in Oregon to embrace this approach. Instead of hiding the wood behind finishes and fireproofing, they decided to expose it. The result? A simplicity and unity that rarely exists in traditional frame projects. Everything inside the building is made up of beautiful exposed wood. This not only adds a touch of warmth and durability, but also eliminates the need for extra finishes. It reduces both waste and environmental concerns.

Waechter Architecture’s innovative design didn’t go unnoticed. They secured a grant from the USDA/US Forest Service Wood Innovations Program to study how Mississippi performs and explore its application in other commercial, institutional and residential settings. 

A reading room with bookshelves, a black sofa and blue cushioned chairs

The architects for Mississippi had three key principles in mind: economy, constructability and agility. They organized the building into six equally-sized rooms, stacked on each side of a shared courtyard. These spacious areas can be used independently or combined to suit various purposes. The courtyard itself is an open-air haven that provides an internal space away from the bustling street. It provides a sanctuary and also doubles as a venue for events and gatherings. 

A study and computer lab room area with tables and people sitting and working

On the ground level, Mississippi offers a fantastic street-facing café called Capitola Coffee. It’s not just for the building’s occupants; it’s a community gathering spot too. The alley-facing section houses a maker space, bicycle parking and a service area that supports all sorts of creative production. The second floor is home to offices and meeting spaces, while the third floor features a residence. The dynamic and adaptable design is ready for change and transformation as needed in the future.

An up-close of a wooden wall design

Sustainability is at the core of every decision made for Mississippi. From the selection of healthy and efficient materials to the use of all-electric, refrigerant-free, hydronic heating and cooling systems, they embraced a resilient and enduring design approach. Their goal is to create a building that not only withstands the test of time but also has a strong sense of identity and grace.

Mississippi is a notable achievement in sustainable architecture, paving the way for future buildings to be environmentally friendly without sacrificing style or functionality.

+ Waechter Architecture 

Images via Lara Swimmer